MANILA – Of the 220 passengers on the same flight as the Filipina nurse found positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), at least 86 have already tested negative for the virus, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Sunday.
According to the DOH, a total of 126 of the other passengers of Saudia Flight 860 that arrived in Manila last Feb. 1 had already been reached as of Sunday.
“For the remaining passengers who have tracked down so far, we are awaiting the results of their tests,” acting DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin said in a press briefing at the DOH main office in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
According to Garin, Feb. 15 is the last day for the contact-tracing of the nurse’s co-passengers because the virus can only be transmitted by the carrier during the 14-day incubation period from Feb. 1.
Garin added, however, that aside from the index patient (the Filipina nurse who tested positive for MERS-Cov), another passenger considered as patient under investigation (PUI) is being monitored also at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
She said that since the PUI has exhibited some manifestations or symptoms of MERS-CoV, health experts recommended further monitoring of the patient.
The PUI was among the 11 co-passengers of the nurse who had undergone the second round of tests that yielded negative results. However, she has shown symptoms of MERS-CoV.
Garin said X-ray laboratory results indicated the patient has a lung problem.
Symptoms of MERS-Cov include flu-like conditions like cough, fever that’s higher than 38 degrees, difficulty of breathing and diarrhea.
To ensure more precise or accurate results, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends three confirmatory tests for patients who exhibit symptoms of MERS-CoV.
A person may be suspected to have MERS-COV if he/she exhibits the symptoms, had close contact with a MERS-CoV patient or came from Middle East countries where close contact with a MERSCoV patient could have happened.
Meanwhile, the DOH said the Filipino nurse positive with MERS-Cov is continuing to show improvement at the RITM, but is a bit emotional over the turnout of events, especially the panic among her townsfolk over her illness.
The DOH, through spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, advised people not not to ostracize the patient as she did seek to have the disease nor dreamt of ever having it; and such panic will not be good for her condition, since is she also pregnant and doctors have to manage such sensitive condition with the regimen of medicines that her disease requires.