5 exposed to couple with nCoV in Dumaguete undergo quarantine

At least five people in Negros Oriental who came in contact with the country's first two cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 n-CoV) are now admitted at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital (NOPH) after coming down with flu-like symptoms.

The five include two from the hotel in the city and two from a resort outside of the capital where the Chinese man and woman had stayed, and a seatmate in one of the flights that they took, said Dr. Liland Estacion, Assistant Provincial Health Officer and chief of the province's Incident Command System on the nCoV said on Monday.

She declined to say whether these patients are male or female but assured that they are now being given the proper treatment for flu-like symptoms such as cough, colds, and flu.

They are all Filipinos, she said.

Swab samples were already taken from them and sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for confirmatory tests on nCoV and it would take about three days to get the results, she added.

In the meantime, the five will remain in isolation at the provincial hospital.

They were among many people who came to the NOPH Sunday afternoon for screening, and as of the latest report from health authorities here, 25 are persons under monitoring (PUMs) and the five are persons under investigation (PUIs), said Capitol Public Information Officer Bimbo Miraflor, also the spokesperson for the Incident Command System for nCoV of the province.

PUMs are those who came in close contact with the Chinese nationals but need not be admitted to the hospital in the absence of symptoms, but have to undertake self-quarantine, limit exposure to people, and submit themselves for a medical checkup once they manifest symptoms, he said.

PUIs are those who came in contact with the confirmed cases and have manifested flu-like symptoms.

Estacion said with the PUIs now in confinement, they have doubled their efforts on contact-tracing of all the persons with whom the Chinese couple had come into contact with to ensure there will be no local transmission of the deadly virus which originated from Wuhan, China.

She said the voluntary appearance of the people being tracked down is a result of the contact-tracing done by the Department of Health's (DOH) Epidemiological Surveillance team from Manila and from the DOH-Region 7 in the past days since news broke out that a 38-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who tested positive of the nCoV had visited Negros Oriental.

Her companion, a 44-year-old Chinese male, had died on Feb. 1 at a hospital in Manila while the woman is still under treatment.

The travel history of the two Chinese nationals showed they left Wuhan for the Philippines via Hong Kong on Jan. 20, arrived on Jan. 21, and proceeded to Dumaguete on Jan. 22 and departed for Manila on January 25.

Now that we have PUIs who have manifested flu-like symptoms after coming into close contact with the Chinese nationals, we will exert all efforts to track down all the people who had come into contact with them, Estacion said.

She could not give an exact number of these people but appealed to them to voluntarily come to the NOPH or even to a private hospital or doctor for screening, assuring them of confidentiality.

Meanwhile, a request has been made to the DOH to extend the stay of the Epidemiological Surveillance Team here until after Feb. 8, the last day of the 14-day incubation period of the novel coronavirus, Estacion said.

We are counting starting from the last day of contact between the Chinese nationals and the people here, and so that means we are still not safe to say that we are clear of the virus, she said.

Asked about a worst-case scenario of having a positive 2019-nCoV case among the five isolated PUIs, Estacion said they are ready for it.

We can give support and besides, the DOH in Region 7 is prepared to give us the necessary requirements, such as doctors to augment the current staff here, she said.

They don't need to be transferred to another facility, she added.

Estacion is asking the public to cooperate in whatever way they can to help prevent local transmission of the virus.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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