CEBU

Young patient recovers; ports issue advisories

STAYING SECURE. A security worker at the emergency entrance of a hospital in Cebu City wears a protective mask. Other residents of Cebu City have also taken to wearing masks amid the threat of the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) that has infected 571 people in mainland China since it was first reported there in Wuhan City, Hubei Province on Dec. 31, 2019. The Department of Health in the Philippines says a five-year-old boy remains under investigation for 2019-nCov in Cebu. (Sunstar Photo / Amper Campaña)

CEBU’S air and sea ports stepped up their measures against the spread of the coronavirus even as the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, it has yet to get confirmatory results for the child under investigation.

The child, 5, from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, was found negative of the coronavirus last Jan. 18 in a second swab test after first showing positive when confined in a hospital here on Jan. 12.

A DOH statement said this child “will remain as a person under investigation” until confirmatory results arrive from Australia to determine if what the child had was the novel or new coronavirus termed as “2019-nCoV.”

As part of the measures against the 2019-nCoV, all hospitals are on “Code White” level of alertness. This means hospitals in the region are in heightened monitoring for the coronavirus and there are adequate staff to respond to cases. Patients with the coronavirus will be prioritized for treatment.

Other developments:

• The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) announced Thursday it is suspending all flights from Wuhan City, considered to be where the new coronavirus originated. Flights from other parts of China will also be under strict monitoring.

• Local airlines have advised travelers not to proceed with their trip if they are experiencing respiratory problems, cough and colds, flu and high body temperature.

• The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said air and sea ports have implemented safety measures to address the issue on coronavirus. Secretary Arthur Tugade said his order for heightened monitoring and alertness covers all air and sea ports.

• The public is advised to protect themselves against respiratory tract infections by maintaining good health through proper rest, diet, proper handwashing and coughing etiquette. Frequent handwashing with soap and water, using hand sanitizer and wearing face mask are advised.

• The Chinese government locked down three cities in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the spread of the virus in the Lunar New Year travel rush.

The DOH 7 clarified that, to date, there remains to be no confirmed case of the 2019-nCov in the Philippines, pending the confirmatory results from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia.

Dr. Van Phillip Baton, DOH 7 Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease Program coordinator, said that in a second swab test, doctors found the child to be negative of the coronavirus based on results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, last Jan. 18. The child has no more fever and no symptoms of the coronavirus.

The child first tested positive for the non-specific pancoronavirus last Jan. 12. Test results were forwarded to Australia for confirmation. Baton said the child will remain confined and in isolation peding the results.

Test results from Australia are expected today, Friday, Jan. 24.

The DOH said there are seven known strains of human coronaviruses. They are the human coronavirus 229E, human coronavirus OC43, Sars-CoV, human coronavirus NL63, human coronavirus HKU1, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV), and the latest—the Wuhan coronavirus or the 2019-nCov.

In Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities, authorities sought meetings with DOH officials on their preparedness.

Lapu-Lapu City Health Officer Agnes Realiza said they want the preparedness to reach the barangay level. For inquiries or to report possible coronavirus cases, the public may send a message or call 0956-394-1999 or (032) 341-3771.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan has been meeting with different sectors, including hotel and resort owners, to discuss preparedness for residents and tourists, especialy with the celebration of the Chinese New Year this Saturday, Jan. 25.

Information dissemination was equally important for Mandaue City as its health office disseminated advisories for hospitals and clinics and the public.

Meanwhile, Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists president Alice Queblatin said the tourism industry in Cebu remains unaffected.

“I have not heard of or noticed any effect on tourism arrivals or activities,” Queblatin told SunStar Cebu Thursday.

China is Cebu’s second biggest source of foreign tourists, with over 30 weekly flights connecting the province to mainland China.

In separate advisories Thursday, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines said they have put in place precautionary measures in their flights.

Aside from discouraging sick people from traveling, the airlines are disinfecting their aircraft, particularly those used in inbound international flights.

The CAB suspension of flights covers several airlines that offer flights from Wuhan City to Cebu with stopovers in other China cities and Manila.

At the maritime sector, directives have been given out to all ports operated by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to coordinate with quarantine offices and implement strict passenger screening at arrival areas. PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said stringent security measures are also in place, especially in areas frequently visited by tourists such as Bohol and Caticlan in Aklan.

The Philippine Coast Guard has likewise advised all medical units in its 13 districts to be on high alert.

In Beijing, the Chinese government decided Thursday to lock down three cities that are home to more than 18 million people in an unprecedented effort to try to contain a deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries in the Lunar New Year travel rush.

A total of 17 people have died, all of them in and around Wuhan. Their average age was 73, with the oldest 89 and the youngest 48. ( WBS, HBL with CSL, KFD, GCM / AP )


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