CEBU health officials must have heaved a sigh of relief when they learned that the five-year-old child confined in a local hospital was found to be negative of the dreaded coronavirus.
It is a relief to know that the virus, a novel or new coronavirus termed as the “2019-nCoV,” has not reached Cebu and there is time to prepare, implement precautions and be logical, not emotional, about the situation here and in other places.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday night, Jan. 24, 2020, that results of the confirmatory tests done in Australia showed the boy in a Cebu hospital is “negative” of the virus, which has sickened hundreds in China.
“This means that the Philippines continues to have no confirmed case of 2019 nCoV,” said the WHO. It doesn’t mean, however, that we will forever be spared as the WHO itself warned “it is likely we will see more cases in China and in other countries in the coming days and weeks.”
The virus, as of Friday afternoon, has infected over 800 people and killed 26 in China.
In Cebu, several precautionary measures are in effect. In air and sea ports, in hotels, resorts and other places visited by tourists who may have come from China and in the hospitals and other medical facilities, these measures are in place and being implemented.
The Civil Aeronautics Board ordered the suspension of 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 have respiratory problems, cough and colds, flu and high body temperature.
All hospitals are on “Code White,” meaning they 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.
The public is advised to protect themselves by maintaining good health through proper rest, diet, proper handwashing and coughing etiquette.
Some reaction, however, has been somewhat alarmist. An official of a local government unit in Cebu has said that persons showing symptoms of the 2019-nCoV and who refuse to have themselves checked by a doctor can be forced to do so. Police powers may be resorted to just to ensure that the persons with symptoms are checked for the virus.
Quite drastic, actually, especially with the negative finding on the young patient in a Cebu hospital. Even if the child were positive, it would be extreme to have sick people arrested. Local actions should depend on decisions of the Health department and the WHO.
The Chinese government has implemented a lockdown on several cities in an exercise of police powers. But that is China where the 2019-nCoV was believed to have originated and where citizens have limited free will.
The negative results on the young patient gives us time to prepare, be sober and logical.