A 60-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, has been confirmed to be the Philippines’ third patient to test positive for the illness, but authorities said she had already left the country by the time they received word of her test results.
The patient traveled from Wuhan and arrived in Cebu via Hong Kong in January, Undersecretary of Health Eric Domingo said in a press conference today. A few days later, she went to Bohol, where she visited a hospital on Jan. 22 for a consultation after experiencing a fever, and was confined immediately.
The patient was tested twice for the virus, on Jan. 23 and 24. The samples from the second day were sent to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia and to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa (RITM), where they initially tested negative.
However, the Health Department was told by the RITM on Monday that the Jan. 23 sample was indeed positive for the Wuhan virus.
By that time, however, the patient, who was thought to have recovered, had already traveled back to China on a Jan. 31 flight, Domingo said.
Authorities are currently tracking down those who came in contact with the woman during her trip to the Philippines, including those from the hotels where she stayed. As of today, there are now 133 people being monitored for possibly carrying the Wuhan virus; 16 have already been discharged.
It was just a week ago that the Philippines announced that a 38-year-old Wuhan woman who had traveled to Manila, Cebu, and Dumaguete tested positive for the virus. A few days after that, the Health Department said that the woman’s companion, a 44-year-old Chinese man, died of the same virus, making him the second confirmed case in the Philippines and the first to die outside of China.
President Rodrigo Duterte has banned all flights coming in from China and its special administrative regions, but said that he would not bar Chinese people from entering the Philippines through other countries such as Canada and the United States. He also insisted in a presser earlier this week that his government has everything under control, and called out Filipinos who want to deport Chinese nationals from the country for being xenophobic.