A 29-YEAR-OLD Chinese male being tested for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) died Wednesday, two days after being admitted at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
In a media briefing, San Lazaro Director Dr. Edmundo Lopez said the man died from pneumonia at 7 a.m. while awaiting results of his laboratory tests for the virus. NCoV, believed to have originated from Wuhan, China, can cause pneumonia.
“Early this morning, at around 7 a.m., we have a person under investigation (PUI) who expired. He is not yet confirmed for nCoV,” Lopez said, adding the deceased, who came from Yunan, China, tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It was not clear if he was a tourist or had a travel history in Wuhan.
“The patient was seen with varying symptoms upon admission. He had cervical lesions, swollen lymph nodes, skinny, and has anal warts. He was tested for HIV and the screening tested positive twice,” said Lopez.
The specimen from the deceased is still being tested for possible nCoV infection, Lopez added.
“Our confirmed cases (for 2019-nCoV)? Zero,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
According to the Department of Health, the deceased is one of the 23 persons under investigation (PUIs) whose test results are still being awaited. Also being awaited are tests results conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on 16 PIUS while six others are awaiting confirmatory test results from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.
Four other PUIs have been discharged out of the total 27 suspected cases recorded since the DOH began counting earlier this month.
Duque said they have expanded the evaluation tools for suspected 2019-nCoV patients, adding they will now make travel history to the entire Hubei Province, whose capital is Wuhan, as basis.
“The revision in the evaluation tool includes this particular amendment: travel history to Hubei. We have expanded the sphere of the area from Wuhan,” he said, adding the decision is based on the latest information regarding the new coronavirus.
“It is in response to the possibility that this virus may indeed enter the country,” said Duque.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said testing reagents for the virus have arrived at the RITM. This means the six pending samples en route to Australia will be the last ones to be sent abroad for confirmatory testing.
“They are already setting up the laboratory. Hopefully, by Friday or Saturday, we can already do the testing there at RITM,” said Domingo.
“It takes time to send our samples to Australia especially since these are possibly infectious substance. So we can probably reduce the process by 2 to 3 days,” said Domingo.
Duque also said they are considering imposing price control measures on face masks, whose prices have spiraled to as much as P130 apiece. They sold for just P10 before the NCoV scare.
“I have spoken to my director for pharmaceutical products division and that is exactly the direction we will pursue,” he said.
The DOH also said it sees nothing wrong with the decision of the Bureau of Customs to impose stricter measures on the importation of used clothing being sold in “ukay-ukay” stores.
Duque said this is because the novel coronavirus is believed to have a “life” of about seven days on items like tables, desk, handkerchiefs, phones, and microphones, among others.
“This move is welcome. It doesn’t harm. It will only do good,” said Duque.
The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) said they are currently monitoring two overseas Filipino workers who arrived recently from Wuhan.
“They are being monitored by our surveillance officer once or twice a day,” BOQ Director Dr. Ferdinand Salcedo said.
He added the two are staying in a condominium unit under self quarantine and have not shown any symptoms of the virus so far.
The Justice Department yesterday said a special team of immigration personnel will handle immigration procedures for Filipinos returning from Wuhan and other areas in China affected by the novel coronavirus.
DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said the team has undergone briefings by the Bureau of Quarantine and will be provided with protective gears.
“A dedicated team of immigration officers will conduct the immigration procedures and formalities. I understand they will also be quarantined after,” Perete said.
He said the quarantine procedure will last for 14 days to ensure they are not carrying the virus that has already killed 132 people in China.
There are around 300 Filipinos in Hubei province and Wuhan.
“We want to make sure that our security is not compromised by those who seek to gain entry into our territory by exploiting the current situation. We need to remember that terrorism, among others, remains as valid a threat as the current medical emergency we are facing,” Perete said.
On Tuesday night, DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Dodo Dulay said the government will make available special flights to repatriate Filipinos from Wuhan city and the rest of Hubei province.
Dulay said Filipinos who want to stay in China should follow health advisories issued by local authorities and cooperate with efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus.
He said Filipinos requiring assistance, emergency and medical supplies and other needs related to the virus should contact the 24-hour hotlines established by the Chinese Foreign Ministry at +86-278712-2256 and +86-278781-1173.
President Duterte on Wednesday night said he is allowing the return of Filipinos from China and other countries with suspected cases of the novel coronavirus provided that all precautionary measures are in place and implemented to avoid the possible entry or spread of the virus in the country.
The President said there are some Filipinos in affected countries who had appealed to the government to help them return to the Philippines.
“We are always conscious of our citizens, their health, if they are going home, we are ready to ferry them back to the Philippines but all precaution must be in place. Maybe spraying the entire plane from landing gear up to the roof top or whatever. I leave it to the roper authorities to do that,” he said.
He added that should the returning Filipinos suffer from symptoms of the virus or are already feeling under the weather they too would be under a “lockdown” in the Philippines as precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus or any other ailments.