COVID cases in PH jump to 20

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    President Duterte confers with Health Secretary Duque.

    TEN new cases of the new Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) were confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday, raising the number of patients afflicted with the virus in the country to 20.

    Five of the new cases had no known travel history while the rest traveled to countries that have reported cases of the virus that has afflicted more than 105,000 persons from 101 countries around the world.

    Last Sunday night, the DOH reported four more cases, including an 86-year-old American male from Marikina City with pre-existing hypertension and history of travel to USA and South Korea.

    DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the 10 new cases came from samples that were taken last March 6 to 8.

    Vergeire said they are looking closely at the latest cases to determine whether there is community transmission.

    “The main determinant for us to say there is community transmission is the cases are no longer linked to each other. That’s why we are looking at these cases to determine if there are linkages among all these 20 positive cases we have,” she explained.

    The new cases are a 72-year-old Filipino male with no history of travel, who experienced symptoms of cough and is now admitted at the Medical City; a 56-year-old Filipino male with travel history to the United Arab Emirates, who experienced symptoms of fever and cough and is now admitted at the Makati Medical Center;

    A 34-year-old Filipino male with travel history to Australia who experienced symptoms of fever and is now admitted at the Makati Medical Center; a 46-year-old Filipino male with no travel history who experienced symptoms of fever and cough and is now admitted at the Makati Medical Center;

    A 24-year-old Filipino male with still undetermined travel history who experienced symptoms of cough and is now admitted at the Makati Medical Center; a 70-year-old Filipino male with exposure to a known COVID-19 case who experienced symptoms of cough, sore throat, and colds and is now admitted at the Unihealth Parañaque Hospital;

    A 69-year-old Filipino female with exposure to a known COVID-19 case who experienced symptoms of cough and colds and is now admitted at the Unihealth Parañaque Hospital; a 41-year-old Filipino male with travel history to Taiwan who experienced symptoms of fever, headache, and body malaise and is now admitted at the Tricity Medical Center;

    A 46-year-old Filipino female with no travel history who experienced still undetermined symptoms and is now admitted at the Tricity Medical Center; and a 48-year-old Filipino male with travel history to Japan who experienced symptoms of cough and body malaise and is now admitted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

    “Once we see that there is even just one with no links to the 20 cases, this will trigger the declaration of sustained community transmission,” added Vergeire.

    Last Saturday, the DOH confirmed the presence of a local transmission in the Philippines after recording a positive case with no travel history.

    Vergeire said they have started conducting comprehensive contact tracing activities in coordination with local government units (LGUs).

    “The DOH has deployed additional surveillance to expedite contact tracing of the new cases. Rest assured that the DOH is maximizing all channels, including coordinating with the Philippine National Police, other stakeholders and government agencies, to immediately identify, and isolate, if needed, those who may have had contact with the confirmed cases,” said Vergeire.

    On Sunday night, the DOH identified four new cases of the virus – including a 38-year-old Taiwanese male with a history of contact with a Taiwanese who visited the Philippines and tested positive for the virus in Taiwan. The patient has no history of travel outside of the country while his symptoms started last March 3. He is currently admitted at the Makati Medical Center.

    The three others were a 32-year-old Filipino male from Pasig City with history of travel to Japan within the past 14 days who is confined at the St. Luke’s Medical Center – Global City; an 86-year-old American male from Marikina City confined at the Medical City, and 57-year-old Filipino male from Quezon City with no history of travel outside of the country confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center – Quezon City.

    As of 12 yesterday, the DOH said it has identified a total of 468 contacts of patients 4 to 10. Of the identified contacts, a total of 113 have been assessed, with six already categorized as persons under investigation and have been admitted in different hospitals, while the other 107 were told to undergo home quarantine.

    DUTERTE: LET’S PRAY

    President Duterte on Monday night urged everyone to “pray” amid the confirmed local transmission of the coronavirus.

    “You must pray. It’s there. It might save us to heaven,” Duterte said at the start of the meeting of the inter-agency task force about the COVID-19 in Malacanang.

    The President’s statement came hours after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III called on hospitals, especially the “Level 2 and Level3” hospitals, in the country not to reject patients who are suspected to have contracted the coronavirus.

    “Refusal to provide care to said patients shall be considered a violation of the signed Performance Commitment and shall be dealt with by the PhilHealth accordingly,” Duque said in a briefing in Malacanang.

    He said patients with severe COVID-19 will only be transferred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Lung Center of the Philippines, and San Lazaro Hospital.

    He said the names of the hospitals where COVID-19 patients are confined will be made public to counter fake news. Duque also assured the public that the DOH will disclose the names of the hospitals with COVID-19 patient only after coordination with the health facility to avoid fake news.

    Duque said the government has funds but faces the problems of limited supply not just of the testing kits but also of surgical masks.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said while the government still has enough funding that it can tap in its efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19, he is confident Congress members are aware of the urgency of having the supplemental budget passed.

    PINOY IN HK POSITIVE

    Another Filipino in Hong Kong has tested positive for the virus, according to DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay Jr.

    “As per our Consulate in HK, a Filipino worker has tested positive for COVID-19 virus.

    Though asymptomatic, the worker is in a HK facility for quarantine,” Dulay said, adding:

    “This is the 4th COVID-19 case involving a Filipino in HK.”

    Four of eight persons who had contact with the American from Marikina are now under home quarantine, according to Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro.

    National Capital Region Police Office Director Gen. Debold Sinas said a policeman assigned in Greenhills, San Juan City is under self-quarantine after being exposed to a 60-year-old COVID-19 patient. – With Jocelyn Montemayor, Christian Oineza and Ashzel Hachero