5th confirmed coronavirus case in PH a ‘local transmission,’ says WHO
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s fifth confirmed case of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) involving a 62-year-old Filipino male is already considered as “local transmission,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.
Local transmission is defined as the transfer of the virus that causes the disease in a local geographical setting.
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO’s representative in the Philippines, however, clarified that the case will not be a widespread contamination for now, as long as contact tracing is still being conducted.
“Even the fifth case is a local transmission, but getting another case in a local contact does not mean widespread contamination. We already know that this disease is transmitted upon close contacts,” he told reporters when asked if the fifth patient’s relatives also tested positive for COVID-19 later on.
When there is already a “widespread transmission beyond the geographical area,” Abeyasinghe said this is already considered a community transmission.
The admission of a local transmission is contrary to a statement of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier that it is still premature to call the positive finding for COVID-19 of the two Filipinos as a local transmission in the Philippines.
“No transmission to speak of as of yet because we only have one, then that’s why we are doing contact tracing,” Duque said, noting that the fifth case, who has no travel history, is just a local case.
Duque added that if they confirm more case then that’s when the health department will officially announce that there is local transmission in the country.
“There is only one [local] case but as soon as we do get confirmation or once we get more positive confirmed cases then that’s the time that we can say that there is a local transmission, which we are preparing for,” he said.
Earlier, the health department said the fifth patient who tested positive for COVID-19 is a 62-year-old Filipino and was a regular visitor at a Muslim prayer hall in Barangay Greenhills in San Juan City.
The WHO official however said it would be “overreacting” if people will stop going to prayer halls.
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