A 37-YEAR-OLD old female nurse from General Santos City has tested positive for the deadly, influenza-like MERS-CoV or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Wednesday.
He told reporters the patient was one of two nurses who arrived in the country via a Saudi Airlines flight from Damman, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 29, and then boarded a Cebu Pacific flight for General Santos City.
Ona said health authorities in Saudi Arabia conducted a health check on the two nurses on Aug. 25 and one of the nurses tested positive for MERS-CoV.
He said the infected nurse was admitted at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City on Sept. 2 for confirmatory tests.
The other nurse and her 10 relatives, including two grandchildren who had fetched her on her arrival, sought went to the Lung Center of the Philippines but all tested negative for the virus.
Ona said the Philippines remained free of the MERS-COV virus despite the recorded case.
“As of today, we can still claim that the Philippines is MERS-CoV free,” Ona said.
He renewed his call to the Filipino workers in the Middle East who develop any symptoms to cooperate with the Philippine government to protect themselves and their families.
‘He said the protocols for the prevention of the spread of the diseases were in place.
Health Department spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said the nurse from General Santos City was still asymptomatic when she was admitted to the hospital
He said they were still tracking down 249 passengers of the Saudi Airlines flight and 143 passengers of a Cebu Pacific flight who were with the Filipino nurse when they flew to General Santos City.
The World Health Organization has reported 837 laboratory-confirmed cases of infections, 291 of which resulted in death worldwide as of July 23.
The Philippines reported its first laboratory-confirmed case of the MERS Coronavirus last April, when a Filipino worker who tested positive in the United Arab Emirates flew home from Abu Dhabi.
More than 400 of the Filipino’s co-passengers in an Etihad Airways flight were also tracked down and tested, but all of them tested negative.
MERs COV is a highly fatal respiratory illness presenting an influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough and often diarrhea.
There’s a limited data on its transmission but it is possible through direct contact with household members and health care providers exposed to confirmed cases.
There are still no travel restrictions to and from the Middle East countries. Filipino travelers to the Middle East are advised to avoid contact with people with influenza-like illness and observe frequent hand-washing.
(Source: Manila Standard, September 4, 2014)