While the country has no confirmed cases yet of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the Department of Health on Tuesday said 24 persons are under investigation for manifesting flu-like symptoms.
In a press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the agency is awaiting the screening results for 13 persons under investigation (PUIs) from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for confirmation from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Australia.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said three PUIs have already been discharged as their laboratory results revealed that they had other diseases.
“As of 1:30 pm, we have additional five PUIs here in Metro Manila,” Domingo said.
Domingo added that all the PUIs under surveillance are foreign nationals located in Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, and Northern Mindanao.
Duque, meanwhile, reiterated that there is still no confirmed case of nCoV in the country.
Duque made the statement in a media briefing following the first Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting with the departments of foreign affairs, interior and local government, justice, labor and employment, tourism, transportation and information and communication technology.
“The current global case fatality rate is 2.9 percent, with all deaths recorded in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the risk level for the spread of the 2019-nCoV as very high in China and high at the regional and global levels,” Duque said.
WHO country representative, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe reported that there are 4,515 cases and 106 deaths related to the virus recorded worldwide.
“This is the last update from the Chinese authorities… as of midnight today. We have recorded 976 severe cases, 37 cases have been confirmed in countries outside China,” Abeyansinghe added.
To support all Filipinos in China, Duque said the inter-agency task force will provide transport and quarantine plans for Filipinos from Hubei province who would voluntarily return to the country.
Duque added that concerned government agencies agreed on proposing temporary restrictions on the issuance of visas for travelers from Hubei province and issuing advisories temporarily discouraging non-essential travel to China.
“I wish to inform our kababayans that the government will take care of you whether you choose to stay home or return home. For those who choose to return, you will be taken care of in a health facility for monitoring and further medical management,” he said.
Duque advised the Filipinos who choose to stay in China to adhere to the local health advisories and cooperate with the local authorities conducting public health activities.
“The DOH will ensure that all Filipinos in other countries will receive sufficient information and health support through telemedicine,” he said.
Urging the public to be vigilant, Duque also advised the public to practice good hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, maintain distance from people manifesting flu-like symptoms, cook food properly and adopt a healthy lifestyle. (Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA)