MANILA, Philippines–An official of the Department of Health on Friday urged hospitals to be on the lookout for patients with signs of the new SARS-like virus, which had already killed five persons abroad.
Health Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag said hospitals should immediately inform the DOH if they have patients who show signs of the novel coronavirus or NcoV.
“We are calling on the hospitals to inform us if they have patients in their Intensive Care Units (ICU) who have severe pneumonia but is negative for influenza or bacteria,” Tayag said in an interview.
“They should send an extra sample to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM),” he added.
Tayag issued the warning after a third patient in the United Kingdom was infected with the new virus, bringing the number of infected persons to 11.
“We think it is not really easily spread because if it were, we would have more than 11 patients,” Tayag said.
“It was first reported in September but (the cases) are not many because these patients are brought to the ICU. If you’re in the ICU, who else can you infect?” he added.
Tayag said the first cases were reported in September and were detected in persons who had just visited Saudi Arabia.
“Since then, the World Health Organization and all countries have been on the watch because the WHO believes that there is now person-to-person transmission,” Tayag said.
“That means it can’t be said now that it is starting in Saudi. Maybe it can already be found in other parts of the world but these have yet to be detected,” he added.
Tayag said hospitals should be on the lookout for senior citizens or persons “with medical conditions “who have difficulty breathing.
“There might be kidney failure. They don’t have to have a history of travel. If we get a sample here, it has to be sent to the RITM,” he said.