DOH confirms 2nd case of nCoV in PH, says patient died Saturday
Updated @ 5:35 p.m., Feb. 2, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday confirmed another case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to two.
In a press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the second case involved a 44-year old Chinese man who was admitted to San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila for pneumonia after experiencing fever, cough, and sore throat.
The Chinese man died on Saturday, February 1.
“Over the course of the patient’s admission, he developed severe pneumonia. In his last few days, the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement,” Duque said.
“However, the condition of the patient deteriorated within the last 24 hours resulting in his demise. We are currently working with the Chinese Embassy to ensure the dignified management of the remains according to national and international standards to contain the disease,” he added.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said this was the first reported case of nCoV-related death outside China.
The Chinese man was the companion of the 38-year old Chinese woman who was earlier confirmed as the first case of nCoV in the country.
Both patients are from Wuhan in China and arrived in the country last January 21.
Duque, meanwhile, said that 24 patients under investigation (PUIs) tested negative from the disease as of Saturday, February 1.
The health secretary assured that all measures needed to contain the spread of the virus are being strictly implemented and followed.
Duque said that their epidemiology bureau of their department is contacting passengers aboard the flights of the two patients who tested positive for the disease.
San Lazaro Hospital, Duque added, has implemented rigorous infection control protocols and all health personnel who came in contact with the patients practiced infection control measures and wore appropriate personnel protective equipment.
“We are continuously recalibrating our plans and efforts as situation develops. We are providing the public with constant updates and advisories as frequently as possible,” Duque said, while reiterating to the public to follow their advisories and refrain from sharing unverified information.
The public is further advised to observe proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
PH travel ban
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Sunday morning confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to impose a temporary travel ban on visitors from mainland China, including its special administrative regions, Hong Kong, and Macau.
The U.S., Japan, Singapore and Australia have imposed similar restrictions despite criticism from China and an assessment from the World Health Organization that they were unnecessarily hurting trade and travel.
The death toll in China climbed by 45 to 304 and the number of cases by 2,590 to 14,380, according to the National Health Commission, well above the number of those infected in in the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which broke out in southern China and spread worldwide.
Meanwhile, six officials in the city of Huanggang, neighboring the epicenter of Wuhan in Hubei province, have been fired over “poor performance” in handling the outbreak, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
It cited the mayor as saying the city’s “capabilities to treat the patients remained inadequate and there is a severe shortage in medical supplies such as protective suits and medical masks.”
After Huanggang, the trading center of Wenzhou in coastal Zhejiang province also confined people to homes, allowing only one family member to venture out every other day to buy necessary supplies.
With the outbreak showing little sign of abating, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have extended the Lunar New Year holiday, due to end this week, well into February. The annual travel crunch of millions of people returning from their hometowns to the cities is thought to pose a major threat of secondary infection at a time when authorities are encouraging people to avoid public gatherings.
All Hubei schools will postpone the opening of the new semester until further notice and students from elsewhere who visited over the holiday will also be excused from classes.
Far away on China’s southeast coast, the manufacturing hub of Wenzhou put off the opening of government offices until Feb. 9, private businesses until Feb. 17 and schools until March 1.
With nearly 10 million people, Wenzhou has reported 241 confirmed cases of the virus, one of the highest levels outside Hubei. Similar measures have been announced in the provinces and cities of Heilongjiang, Shandong, Guizhou, Hebei and Hunan, while the major cities of Shanghai and Beijing were on indefinite leave pending developments.
Despite imposing drastic travel restrictions at home, China has chafed at those imposed by foreign governments, criticizing Washington’s order barring entry to most non-citizens who visited China in the past two weeks. Apart from dinging China’s international reputation, such steps could worsen a domestic economy already growing at its lowest rate in decades.
The crisis is the latest to confront Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has been beset by months of anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, the reelection of Taiwan’s pro-independence president and criticism over human rights violations in the traditionally Muslim northwestern territory of Xinjiang.
Economically, Xi faces lagging demand and dramatically slower growth at home while the tariff war with the U.S. remains largely unresolved.
Among a growing number of airlines suspending flights to mainland China was Qatar Airways. The Doha-based carrier said on its website that its flights would stop Monday. It blamed “significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by a number of countries” for the suspension of flights.
Oman also halted flights to China, as did Saudi Arabia’s flagship national carrier, Saudia.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run TV reported that 10 Saudi students were evacuated from Wuhan on a special flight. It said the students would be screened upon arrival, but ot did not say whether they would be quarantined for 14 days.
This weekend, South Korea and India flew hundreds of their citizens out of Wuhan. They went into a two-week quarantine.
On Sunday, South Korea reported three more cases for a total of 15. They include an evacuee, a Chinese relative of a man who tested positive and a man who returned from Wuhan. India reported a second case, also in southern Kerala state.
South Korea also barred foreigners who have stayed or traveled to Hubei province within the last 14 days from entering the country.
Indonesia flew back 241 nationals from Wuhan on Sunday and quarantined them on the remote Natuna Islands for two weeks. Several hundred residents protested the move, with one saying, “This is not because we do not have a sense of solidarity with fellow nationals. But because we fear they could infect us with the deadly virus from China.”
A Turkish military transport plane carrying 42 people arrived in Ankara from Wutan Saturday night. The 32 Turkish, six Azerbaijani, three Georgian nationals and an Albanian will remain under observation for 14 days, together with 20 personnel who participated in the evacuation, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Vietnam counted its seventh case, a Vietnamese-American man who had a two-hour layover in Wuhan on his way from the U.S. to Ho Chi Minh City.
The virus’ rapid spread in two months prompted the WHO on Thursday to declare it a global emergency.
That declaration “flipped the switch” from a cautious attitude to recommending governments prepare for the possibility the virus might spread, said the WHO representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea. Most cases reported so far have been people who visited China or their family members.
WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases abroad involved human-to-human transmission.
“Countries need to get ready for possible importation in order to identify cases as early as possible and in order to be ready for a domestic outbreak control, if that happens,” Galea told The Associated Press.
Both the new virus and SARS are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that cause the common cold.
The death rate in China is falling, but the number of confirmed cases will keep growing because thousands of specimens from suspected cases have yet to be tested, Galea said.
“The case fatality ratio is settling out at a much lower level than we were reporting three, now four, weeks ago,” he said.
Although scientists expect to see a limited transmission of the virus between people with family or other close contacts, they are concerned about cases of infection spreading to people who might have less exposure.
— With a report from the Associated Press
[This is a developing story. Please refresh this page for updates.]
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