The Department of Health (DOH) said on Sunday the 32-year-old Filipino female nurse who has been confirmed positive with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) remains in stable condition.
According to DOH Acting Secretary Janette L. Garin, continuous monitoring is still undertaken with the nurse who was also found to be one-month pregnant during the testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
“She is stable… She is undergoing a very difficult time and a bit emotional with the reactions from her community,” Dr. Garin said, referring to the panic that earlier gripped the residents in her neighborhood in Pacita, San Pedro City, Laguna.
The nurse, who arrived from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1, has tested positive for MERS-CoV, a respiratory disease that has infected and killed hundreds, mostly in Saudi Arabia.
She was first admitted to the Evangelista Medical Specialty Center in San Pedro on Feb. 2 after complaining of fever, cough and breathing difficulty. She was later transferred to the RITM after her condition did not improve. Further tests confirmed that she has MERS-CoV.
According to Dr. Garin, the patient, who is four to five weeks pregnant, is now in stable condition and is being closely monitored by health workers.
Garin said the panic reaction came about after some tricycle drivers in the community began wearing masks for fear of being infected with the disease following the nurse’s hospitalization at a hospital in San Pedro City.
In addition, some parents also refused to send their children to a school in the community.
To dispel the panic, an information campaign through barangay and community assemblies was undertaken in close coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd), the DOH, the City Health Office and other concerned groups.
The owner of the hospital also initiated disinfection of the medical facility for a period of 14 days just to allay fears on the spread of the dreadful virus.
The health personnel of the hospital also agreed to undergo testing for MERS-CoV since they were presumed to have close contact with the patient during the initial consultations prior to her referral to the RITM.
In a related development, Dr. Garin said that 30 co-passengers of the nurse in the Saudia Flight 860 that arrived in the country last Feb. 1 tested negative for the virus.
She added that these individuals can be allowed to go back to their families and homes since, aside from the negative test results, they have not manifested symptoms of MERS-CoV.
RITM is one of the specialized DOH hospitals that deal with emerging infectious diseases.
Aside from RITM, other specialty hospitals where similar testing is being undertaken include the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City. PNA