MANILA – There is still much to be learned about a new strain of the coronavirus that originated from a city in Central China, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
Duque said it has yet to be confirmed if the novel coronavirus has reached the Philippines after it turned out that three Chinese nationals quarantined in Kalibo just had the flu, and while authorities wait for test results on a Chinese child in Cebu who showed flu-like symptoms.
“Let me just underscore that there are still many blind spots with regard to the novel coronavirus and the information stream continues,” the Health chief said at a news forum on Wednesday.
Duque explained that the coronavirus has six known strains, four of which are thought to cause the common cold. The other two, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), spread globally and proved fatal in the past years.
He also said the five-year-old child who has tested positive for a non-specific pancorona virus in Cebu City is close to recovering from having flu-like symptoms.
The health official said they are waiting for the confirmatory results that will determine if the Chinese kid from Wuhan, China has contracted the 2019 novel coronavirus, which will come out from Australia today.
Duque also said that, in the event the results will show that the child is positive for the 2019-n CoV, the DOH will immediately commence contact tracing, especially the first four passengers sitting beside the patient on the plane that transported him from China to Cebu City.
The DOH secretary also said that the health condition of the child’s mother is stable, and that she is not showing any flu-like symptoms.
In a separate interview, Duque also said that the elderly are the most vulnerable to a new virus, as shown by those who died from the illness in China, who all had underlying medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
“Mula sa mga naiulat sa atin, ‘yung hirap ng paghinga o kakapusan sa paghinga ay posibleng sintomas na rin ito na tutuloy sa pneumonia o sa mabigat na komplikasyon o severe acute respiratory syndrome na pwedeng makamatay, lalong lalo na sa mga matatanda, ‘yung mga may underlying medical problem,” Duque told radio DZMM.
“Dapat talaga pinagiingat na ang ating mga kababayan na tutungo ng China. Hintayin natin ang advisory ng WHO (World Health Organization na oras-oras naman tayo ay nakikipag-ugnayan para sa pinakahuling ulat,” he added.
Common symptoms of coronavirus infection include cough, fever, shortness of breath and breathing difficulty. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Vaccines and medicine against the novel coronavirus have yet to be discovered, Duque said, but a strong immune system would prevent a person from contracting the illness.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-COV and SARS, according to the WHO./PN