Palace confirms first MERS-COV case

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A Filipina nurse from Saudi Arabia is the country’s first Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-COV) case.

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The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that the 32-year-old nurse has been infected with the virus and is now confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila), Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.

“President Aquino has directed acting Health Secretary Janette Garin to ensure that all necessary preventive measures are taken in connection with the reported case of MERS-COV,” Coloma added.

He said the government is trying to locate the patient’s fellow passengers from Saudi Arabia to Manila last week.

The nurse, along with her husband, arrived on February 1 on board Saudia Airlines Flight SV860 that carried 223 other passengers. She arrived without symptoms.

The next day, however, she started feeling sick, so she went to a hospital, which in turn sent samples of her specimen to RITM. Two tests released on February 9 yielded positive results.

The patient was confined at RITM on February 10, and a third test also turned out positive.

Meanwhile, DOH authorities at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) reiterated on Wednesday that a health alert system is still being strictly implemented at the premier airport.

Passengers arriving at NAIA from Middle East countries, especially from Saudi Arabia, are now strictly being monitored.

The DOH said there is “low risk of infections” as the nurse showed no symptoms while on board the plane.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, MERS-COV is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-COV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough and shortness of breath.

About 30 percent of people infected have died.

An on-duty physician of the Bureau of Quarantine at NAIA who refused to be named said passengers from the Middle East should expect stricter health checks.

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