Chinese Child in Cebu City Tests Positive for Coronavirus; DOH to Confirm If Wuhan Coronavirus Has Entered PH
In Cebu City, a child from China has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, a family of coronaviruses from which the common cold and SARS originate. Also in the coronavirus family is the mysterious Wuhan coronavirus, which is currently spreading throughout China. Confirmed cases have occurred in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
The five-year-old child traveled from Wuhan to Cebu City on January 12. Wuhan is where the Wuhan coronavirus is suspected to have begun.
According to the director of the Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau Dr. Ferchito Avelino, the child came to the Philippines to study English. He was confined at a hospital immediately upon testing positive for a non-specific pancoronavirus.
The test the child took could only confirm that he was carrying a coronavirus, but the specific type is yet to be determined. Doctors have sent the specimen from the patient to Australia to confirm what coronavirus the patient is carrying.
Three other Chinese individuals are being monitored after they landed in Kalibo Airport, Aklan with flu-like symptoms. However, these patients did not fly in from Wuhan.
The Department of Health is investigating the situation.
“I urge travelers with symptoms of respiratory illness, either during or after travel, to seek medical attention immediately. I also call on our health facilities to enhance standard infection prevention and control practices, especially in our emergency departments. We must always be ready,” said DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
Officials from the Chinese government have confirmed that the new coronavirus can be transmitted between humans. At least four people have died from the virus and hundreds remain infected.
While the virus is not SARS, the shadow of SARS continues to loom over Asia after it killed more than 700 people in 2002 and 2003. Health officials across Asia are racing to identify and find the cure to the virus to prevent another SARS event from spreading across the region.
As of now, the severity level of this novel coronavirus is unknown. According to World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, three of the four casualties had preexisting medical conditions that could have contributed to their deaths.
“We are in the early stages of trying to understand how severe this infection is and how many deaths is it likely to cause,” said Abeyasinghe.