Chinese boy tested in Cebu might not be a case of novel coronavirus — DOH

/ 11:57 AM January 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The strain of coronavirus found in a five-year-old Chinese boy from Wuhan, China who arrived last January 12 in Cebu City might not be a case of a novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.

The child and his mother have since been isolated in a hospital in Cebu City, after the boy showed signs of fever, throat irritation and cough, which he reportedly had before entering the Philippines. Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.


“Ang nakakapagtaka lang, bakit ‘yung nanay wala namang sintomas na ipinakita. Kaya meron pa ring posibilidad na baka hindi naman talaga ito, posibleng hindi ito novel coronavirus,” Duque said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum.

(What is puzzling here is why the mother of the child did not show any symptom. That’s why there is still a possibility that this is not really novel coronavirus.)


He added the child is now in stable condition.

READ: DOH probes case of 5-year-old who tested positive for ‘non-specific’ virus

There are six known strains of coronaviruses, including the more serious Severe Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-Cov) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The other four are “thought to be the ones causing common colds and much less serious clinical manifestation,” according to Duque.

“There is a possibility that this novel coronavirus might be in one of the four [strains], pending precise identification by the Melbourne reference lab or if could be the seventh coronavirus, and that is why they are referring to it as novel, [meaning] brand new,” he explained.

Currently, there are still many “blind spots” about the novel coronavirus, said Duque, but he added there are circumstantial evidence that the cases reported in China were of human-to-human transmission after health personnel who treated patients were also found to be infected.

Chinese authorities earlier warned that the virus may be spread through human contact. In China, nine have died while the number of cases has reached 440. Similar cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.


Duque earlier said the child tested positive for the “non-specific pancoronavirus assay” in a test at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine but tested negative for MERS-CoV and SARS.

This prompted the Department of Health to send specimens taken from the boy to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain found on him.

Duque said test results will be released within 24 hours of receipt of the specimen.

Despite fears on the effects of the coronavirus, Duque said being infected with the virus is not automatically a “death sentence.”

“Hindi ho ito death sentence. Ang death sentence dito ay kapag ang mga taong may malubhang sakit, ‘yung may preexisting conditions, cancer [catches the virus], dahil kapag nagchemotherapy, isa sa mga side effects ay ‘yung depressed ang immune system. So kahit na walang kwenta ang coronavirus pwedeng maging malubha ang komplikasyong idudulot nito,” he explained.

(This is not a death sentence. This will be a death sentence only when a person who has a severe disease or preexisting conditions like cancer catches the virus, because chemotherapy will cause a weak immune system. So even if coronavirus is mild, it can cause severe complications.)

Edited by MUF

For more information about the novel coronavirus click here.

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TAGS: China, Coronavirus, DoH, Francisco Duque, Health, novel coronavirus
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