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DOH-8: Eastern Visayas remains Coronavirus-free

ORMOC CITY – With the Department of Health (DOH) confirming the first case of Novel Coronavirus (2019 n-COV) in the Philippines on January 30, 2020 (Thursday), Ormoc City Mayor Richard I. Gomez did not tarry and immediately requested a conference meeting with Councilor and Dr. Gerry Penserga along with Ormoc City Health Office Head Dr. Edmund Keirulf and several other health workers regarding safety precautions and assessment of the n-COV case.

It was found out during the same conference meeting that in the Philippines, there are already 55 people exhibiting n-COV-like symptoms as of January 30, 2020; but only 24 of them are “suspected” and have been tagged as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).

Unfortunately, following the DOH’s evaluation of the 24, two came out to be confirmed positive of the n-COV and has been admitted at the San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

They are the 38-year-old Chinese woman who traveled to Hongkong from China, then to Cebu and Dumaguete; and finally, flew to Manila. The other one is her companion, a 44-year-old Chinese male who also got confined at the same hospital as the woman.

On February 2, 2020, per a DOH website update, the agency “also confirmed that the 44-year-old male died yesterday, February 1, 2020”, adding that, “over the course of the patient’s admission, he developed severe pneumonia due to viral and bacterial infections (S. pneumoniae and Influenza B); and in his last few days, the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement, however, the condition of the patient deteriorated within his last 24 hours resulting in his demise.”

In the same update, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said: “I would like to emphasize that this is an imported case with no evidence of local transmission.  We are currently working with the Chinese Embassy to ensure the dignified management of the remains according to national and international standards to contain the disease.”

Accordingly, DOH is providing interior guidelines and changes as more information comes in. Fever, cough, colds and difficulty in breathing are the primary symptoms, adding that there is neither treatment nor immunization since the virus is symptomatic.

Per DOH, there are already thermal scanners in airports and fully equipped laboratory equipment in some hospitals for those who are considered a PUI. In the case of Ormoc, per the City Health Office, if there is a suspected PUI, the person will be advised for admission at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC). 

Meanwhile, in Tacloban City, the 36-year old foreign worker from Wuhan, China remains under investigation after the release of the initial tests result from the Research institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM).  

His sample was collected on January 25 and was tested in RITM last Monday, January 27. 

John Paul Roca, DOH 8 information officer, said the result of the laboratory test performed was negative for SARS-CoV, but RITM would still run more tests for the possible strain of coronavirus.

The foreign national arrived in the city last January 17, 2020, with influenza-like symptoms such as unproductive cough and fever, which prompted him to visit a hospital for a check-up. 

He said the patient was isolated in one of the hospitals here since January 23 up to now with good condition, normal vital signs, no cough and fever. 

Roca added the PUI would be discharged once the laboratory results would turn negative.

The Department of Health-Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development maintained that there is no confirmed case of 2019 n-CoV infection here or within the region.

DOH 8 advised the public, especially those with a history of travel to Wuhan, Hubei, China or coming from countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV who are experiencing influenza like symptoms like fever, cough and colds to immediately seek medical attention. 

“The DOH-EV CHD is doing our best effort to monitor possible cases and giving health education and advisories in public and all media platforms for more awareness and actions of the 2019-nCoV,” Roca noted.

He also urged the public to remain calm but vigilant and to always practice hand hygiene. 

Observe proper cough etiquette, maintain distance and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of the elbow, and avoid close contact with people manifesting flu-like symptoms.  “Also avoid contact with farm and wild animals, cook food properly, and adopt a healthy lifestyle to mount immunity against infections,” Roca added. By Marie Tonette Marticio and Mary Ann Reusora

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