MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health on Monday directed all hospitals across the country to report suspected cases of the new coronavirus virus using a standard report form available at the National Epidemiology Center amid an increase in the number of incidents abroad.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona also advised that samples collected from patients showing signs of the novel coronavirus or NcoV may be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City for confirmatory testing.
Ona gave such directive on the heels of a call from the World Health Organization for its member states to be vigilant and to immediately report cases of the new virus.
At least 12 respiratory cases, including five deaths, have so far been reported from several countries like the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. The WHO also urged health authorities to correctly report it as new coronavirus and not describe such cases as “SARS-like” to avoid confusion.
Ona on Monday said the new coronavirus may be spread through person-to-person contact although it remains “not to be highly contagious” based on the few cases that have so far been reported.
Frequent hand-washing, observance of cough etiquette and social distancing may help prevent the spread of the new virus and similar illnesses, he said.
The government has not imposed travel restrictions to and from the affected countries but the Bureau of Quarantine will continue its routine screening of incoming passengers regardless of country of origin in airports and seaports for signs of illness that may require temporary isolation.