Visiting China? Avoid Wuhan for now: DOH


    IF you intend to visit China this weekend for the celebration of the Chinese New Year, stay away from Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected.

    This warning was issued yesterday by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who said: “They have to avoid Wuhan. They shouldn’t be going to Wuhan and they have to be updated with regards to a possible rapid spread to other cities (in China).”

    Duque said the health department, in cooperation with other agencies, will be on the lookout for suspected cases coming from Wuhan intending to spend the holidays in the Philippines.

    “We have guidelines that have been proven and tested. So we abide by these guidelines.

    Those travelling to Wuhan, if they have fever, then they have to be isolated, they have to be investigated further,” said Duque.

    The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, will be celebrated this Saturday, Jan. 25.

    Duque also advised the Philippine boxing team set to compete in the Asia/Oceania Olympic boxing qualifiers in Wuhan to keep their “ears are stuck to the ground.” Duque need not worry, however, since the qualifiers set next month have been called off due to fears over the new flu-like coronavirus, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.

    Duque also issued an update on the 5-year-old Chinese boy suspected to have the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and has been admitted to a hospital in Cebu City. He said the boy has recovered but remained at the hospital’s isolation room as they await the results of the laboratory tests from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Australia.

    “Patient has already recovered. But the results from Australia remains pending,” Duque said, adding the boy’s mother is in a separate isolation room and also under close observation.

    “The mother is also isolated. We also took blood and swab samples for laboratory testing,” Duque said.

    The boy arrived in Cebu City last Jan. 21 with a travel history to Wuhan and was confined to the hospital hours later after he manifested fever, throat irritation and cough.

    Tests on the boy yielded negative results for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). But his samples tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus assay, requiring that the specimen be sent to Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain.