Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced Thursday that the Philippines has one confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus

The Philippines on Thursday confirmed its first case of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“The DOH is confirming that a 38-year-old female Chinese patient under investigation (PUI) is positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) after her lab results arrived today from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a news conference.

The patient came from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. She arrived in Manila via Hong Kong on Jan. 21.

“The patient sought consult and was admitted in one of the country’s government hospitals last Jan. 25 after experiencing mild cough,” Duque said.

Duque added that the woman was in an undisclosed government hospital in Metro Manila.

“She is currently asymptomatic…which means she has no fever, and no other signs and symptoms suggesting illness at this point.”

The country’s health chief added that authorities were implementing measures to protect the health staff providing care to the patient.

He added that the government “continues to guarantee the public that all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to halt the spread of the virus.”

He assured the public that the health department was “on top of this evolving situation.”

“We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies, and the utilization of DOH’s decision tool, or the evaluation assessment tool,” he said.

Duque said the DOH is monitoring 29 patients under investigation (PUIs) for the virus. 18 are in Metro Manila, 4 in Central Visayas, 3 in Western Visayas, and one each in Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and the Davao region.

Of the total, 23 are still in hospital, while five have been “discharged but are under strict monitoring,” he said.  One PUI died on Wednesday, he said.


Stay calm, hydrated and practice proper hygiene

With the confirmation of the first infection caused by the 2019-nCoV, Duque advised the public to stay calm.

“I urge the public to stay calm and remain vigilant at all times. Let us continue to practice good personal hygiene, and indeed adopt healthy lifestyles,” he said.

He also reminded the public to regularly wash hands and observe “cough etiquette” by staying one meter away from people when coughing.

Duque also stressed the need to drink lots of water since, based on available information,  coronaviruses survive longer in dry or low humidity environments.

“I strongly recommend as your doctor, you have to drink a lot of water, make sure your throat is moist so that virus won’t attach to it and eventually get absorbed,” he said.


Chinese-Filipino schools suspend classes

Some Chinese-Filipino schools in the nation’s capital suspended classes due to fears of the possible spreading of the 2019-nCov.

Here are the schools that have suspended classes:

Philippine Cultural College – class resumption to be announced

Uno High School – class resumption to be announced

Hope Christian High School – class resumption on Feb. 10

Chiang Kai Shek College – class resumption on Feb. 8

St. Jude Catholic School – class resumption on Feb. 8

Tiong Se Academy – class resumption to be announced

St. Stephen’s High School – class resumption to be announced

The 2019-nCoV has killed at least 170 and infected nearly 8,000, spreading from its epicenter in Wuhan, China to several countries in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of the deadly disease include cough, shortness of breath, fever and breathing difficulties.  (Rommel F. Lopez)