JANUARY 22, 2020 – Health authorities are studying proposals to impose travel restrictions to people going to and coming from China as a new flu-like virus has spread to Asia and the US.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Philippines has set into motion strict health protocols to stop the new strain of coronavirus from entering and spreading in the country as the World Health Organization (WHO) struggled to contain the virus, which originated from Wuhan in central China.
“If there is any travel restriction, it should be the country of origin of this novel coronavirus,” Duque said in a media forum. “But that is still being discussed, that is still being studied.”
Duque said they are mindful of the expected influx of Chinese nationals in the country to celebrate Lunar New Year this weekend, but had to be realistic in terms of how many people can be placed under quarantine.
“Hindi naman pwedeng bawat suminga at bawat umubo ay i-a-isolate mo,” he said. “Those traveling from Wuhan, if they have fever, then they have to be isolated, they have to be worked on, investigated further and tested for the possible novel coronavirus.”
The health department said it is closely monitoring a five-year-old child from Wuhan, who arrived in Cebu after he showed symptoms of flu and tested positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus assay.
Duque said they are still waiting for the laboratory results of the samples they sent to Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain.
The five-year old victim is still manifesting coughs but with no fever, the secretary said. However, the patient remains under isolation as well as the mother who arrived in January 12.
Death toll due to the new coronavirus in China rose to nine and there are 440 confirmed cases, Chinese health officials said.
The virus has spread to United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
Duque said they are coordinating with their Chinese counterparts through the WHO. “Makakaasa kayo na ang WHO ay tuwinang nagbibigay ito ng bagong impormasyon at ipinararating ito sa aming tangggapan.”
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from common cold to more serious infections. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death. (Karen Macalalad/MM)
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