Three Boracay-bound Chinese nationals were ordered by health authorities to undergo tests yesterday after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, sparking fears that they may be carrying a new, little understood pneumonia-causing coronavirus originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Blood and saliva were taken from the three tourists, who arrived separately at the international airport in Kalibo, Aklan. All three had a mild fever, colds, and cough, provincial health officer Dr. Cornelio Cuachon, Jr. told The Philippine Daily Inquirer. After taking samples, the three were allowed to proceed to Boracay, contrary to reports that said they were quarantined.
All samples were sent to the Department of Health’s (DOH)) office in Iloilo and to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila. The authorities have yet to receive the results.
Prior to the arrival of the three, a 29-year-old female tourist was referred to Aklan’s provincial hospital on Jan. 17, where she was similarly made to undergo tests. This was followed by a 3-year-old girl who arrived on Saturday, and a 65-year-old man who also arrived yesterday, Manila Bulletin reports. The results of their tests are still unknown.
Meanwhile, the DOH said today they will investigate the case of a 5-year-old Chinese boy from Wuhan who tested positive of a suspected coronavirus, Rappler reports. The child arrived in Cebu City recently for the Sinulog Festival.
[T]he samples tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus assay, thus the specimen has been sent to Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain,” he said. The results will be available in 24 hours. He added that the patient is stable but coughing.
The Health Department had earlier ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to screen foreigners arriving in the country amid reports of a new coronavirus called 2019-nCoV that originated in Wuhan, China. There are now at least 200 people believed to have caught the disease, with suspected cases reported in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, the BBC reports. As of yesterday, three people have died from the virus.
An animal source seems the most likely primary source of this novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, with some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts. pic.twitter.com/L57VUr5d3z
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 19, 2020
The World Health Organization has said that the virus likely came from an animal, and that it spread through close contact with humans.
The global body is set to determine this week whether to label the outbreak a global emergency after Chinese health officials confirmed yesterday that the virus is capable of being spread from human to human, according to AFP.