11 in contact with nurse show symptoms of MERS

MANILA, Philippines—Eleven of the 56 people who had close contact with a Filipino nurse infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have shown symptoms of the disease and had to be subjected to a second round of testing, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

In a press briefing yesterday, Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin announced that the 11 patients, including the nurse’s husband, were subsequently admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for another test using sputum and rectal swab samples.


Garin said the 56 people who were checked for the virus were mostly medical workers and staff of the Evangelista Medical Specialty Hospital in San Pedro, Laguna, where the 32-year-old nurse first sought medical attention a day after arriving from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1.

The nurse’s mother-in-law and helper were also among those tested for MERS-CoV and yielded a negative result, Garin said.


But of the 220 passengers of Saudi Airlines SV860, only 92 have so far been located by the government and have agreed to be tested.

The DOH regional office in Cebu is still tracing the whereabouts of an Italian tourist, another copassenger of the Filipino nurse, who reportedly stayed in a hotel when he arrived in Cebu on Feb. 2. He checked out on Feb. 5.

Dr. Dino Caing, medical coordinator of the emerging and reemerging disease of the Department of Health in Central Visayas, said the tourist could no longer be located.

The foreigner and a copassenger of Saudi Airlines flight—a Cebuana nurse—boarded another plane to Cebu on Feb. 2.

The DOH had subjected the Cebuana passenger for testing on Thursday. Caing said the results tested negative.

Almost all the 31 overseas Filipino workers from Central Luzon who were copassengers of the infected Filipino nurse have been swabbed for saliva for testing, said Dr. Jessie Fantone, chief epidemiologist of the DOH in the region.

“We call on the remaining passengers to contact the DOH hotline (02) 7111001 or (02) 7111002,” said Garin, adding that DOH teams have also been mobilized across the country to get samples from these passengers.


Garin said the nurse is already stable but is still being closely monitored because of her pregnancy.

The nurse was transferred to RITM on Feb. 10 after her condition did not improve, said Garin.

MERS-CoV has symptoms similar to the common flu that includes fever with cough, cold and sneezing. The incubation period is usually 14 days. With a report from Romulo O. Ponte

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TAGS: Department of Health, MERS-CoV, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
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