ILOILO

3 Chinese nationals with fever quarantined in Aklan

AKLAN. Dr. Cornelio Cuachon said three Chinese nationals were quarantined at the DRSTMH for possible acquiring possible "SARS-like virus." (Jun Aguirre)

KALIBO (Updated) -- The Provincial Health Office of Aklan said three Chinese nationals were separately quarantined in Aklan for possible case of "SARS-like pneumonia" or mystery pneumonia.

Dr. Cornelio Cuahon of the Provincial Health Office said a 29-year-old Chinese national was placed on quarantine on January 17.

"Upon arriving at the airport and was detected, she has a fever, she was referred to the provincial hospital and was observed overnight. The following day, since she has no fever and no difficulty breathing, she was permitted to go to Boracay," Cuachon said.

The second passenger is a three-year-old girl who arrived with her parents on Saturday, January 18.

"This second passenger was detected having a fever. When she arrived at the provincial hospital, she was diagnosed as having upper respiratory tract infection," Cuachon said.

He said since the child was treated as outpatient, she and her parents were also allowed to proceed to Boracay Island.

The third patient is a 65-year-old male who arrived on Monday morning, January 20.

"The third one has also fever, but when he arrived at the provincial hospital, he was treated as outpatient upon assessment of the doctors," Cuachon said.

All of them were brought to the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) for medical checkup but were later allowed to go to Boracay, their primary destination.

Throat swabs and blood specimens were taken from the three patients.

Cuachon said the specimens will be brought first to the Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas office and they will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which is based in Muntinlupa City, for confirmatory tests.

Cuachon said he will go to Iloilo on Tuesday, January 21, for an emergency meeting with the DOH-Western Visayas officials.

If results of the tests turn out positive for "N. Corona Virus," he advised the three Chinese nationals to return to the hospital.

"We advised them that since they are asymptomatic (no fever) when they were released from the hospital, in case the symptoms get worst, balik lang sila sa hospital (they should just go back to the hospital), he said.

The three Chinese nationals were spotted by the Bureau of Quarantine at the Kalibo International Airports (KIA). Personnel of the Bureau of Quarantine saw them, through their thermal scanner, having temperature above 37.8 degrees Celsius.

They came from different provinces in China.

The KIA has direct flights coming from different cities and provinces of China.

"Upon entry here in Kalibo Airport, those who have fever and cough are automatically referred at the provincial hospital for quarantine for specimen," Cuachon said.

"We are planning to meet with different private hospitals in the province soon to orient them what to do in any worst situations. We are ready," said Cuachon.

He urged Aklan residents not to panic and be vigilant.

"This is a new strain. We do not know yet what it is. It is better for us to drink plenty of water and take multivitamins," he said.

Cuachon is referring to the suspected novel coronavirus (nCoV), which he said is 80 percent identical to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

He clarified though that there is no official announcement of alert status or any declaration coming from the Provincial Health Office or DOH, stressing the Philippines is still "novel coronavirus free."

He said they have not officially declared "any alert status" in Aklan, because they have to wait for the result of the tests. He could not say though how many days it would take for the results to be released.

The illness, similar to "viral pneumonia of unknown origin," has so far affected 200 persons in China, according to the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Cuachon expects the surge in the number of fever and cough cases in the province because of the Ati-atihan Festival.

"Many revelers joined the street dancing despite rains and we expect cases of fever and cough from the revelry," he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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