A foreigner who flew to the Philippines from the Middle East has become the second confirmed case of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in the country, the Health department said on Monday, as a deadly outbreak in South Korea spreads alarm across Asia.
The 36-year-old male patient, whose nationality was not disclosed, has been put in isolation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, a facility run by the Department of Health (DOH) in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila), to contain the virus, Health Secretary Janette Garin said.
“We can see he is getting better,” Garin told a news conference, saying the man had a “low viral load” indicating his infection was not extremely serious.
“There is no reason to panic and we appeal to the public to respect the privacy of the patient.”
The man fell ill on July 2, having earlier arrived in the country from Saudi Arabia by way of Dubai, Garin said, declining to give more details.
DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said the patient was referred to the RITM on July 4 and the case was confirmed that afternoon.
Suy added that the patient has been under quarantine and was already showing symptoms of the illness for 14 days when he went to see a doctor.
A Filipina nurse who returned from Saudi Arabia in February became the first person in the Philippines to test positive for MERS but she later recovered.
Although Garin stressed that there had been no cases of MERS infection through casual contact in the Philippines, theHhealth department was tracing people who may have had contact with the patient.
They include all those who were on the same flight as the infected man, the Health secretary said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd immediately directed the DOH to prevent the spread of MERS.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President has ordered tighter “surveillance and quarantine measures” at all of the country’s ports of entry.
The DOH was also asked to “ensure the prompt reporting by all hospitals of patients who show symptoms of the disease for immediate isolation, treatment and contact tracing,” Coloma added.
The DOH had been on alert in recent weeks for the possible entry of the virus that causes the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, particularly among the 88,000 South Koreans living in the Philippines.
Health authorities earlier examined three South Korean expatriates who developed respiratory ailments, but all tested negative for MERS, Suy said.
With AFP and PNA