A five-year-old boy in Cebu City suspected of being a carrier of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) tested negative for the disease, the Department of Health (DoH) confirmed on Friday night.
“This is indeed very welcome news to ease the Filipinos’ growing concern. I assure everyone that your Department of Health will not stop here and is on top of this emerging health event. We will continue to monitor the developing situation and ensure mechanisms to contain the threat of the 2019-nCoV,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said in a statement.
The DoH disclosed on Tuesday that a five-year-old child, identified as Chinese and who came from 2019-nCoV-infected Wuhan, was quarantined after showing pneumonia-like symptoms of the deadly virus.
The child tested negative for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) but was positive for the “non-specific pancoronavirus assay”.
This prompted the DoH to send the specimen to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.
Duque also said that the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) remained on alert and continued to work closely with airlines and airport authorities for stricter border surveillance.
He added that the department has also activated its emergency response units and continues to strengthen national-level preparedness, heighten community surveillance, enhance case management and hospital readiness, and intensify information dissemination and community engagement.
He also recommended that for travelers with fever and cough, and with a history of travel to Wuhan, China to immediately proceed to any hospital for prompt medical attention and management.
Duque also assured that its health facilities were equipped and prepared to receive suspected cases of the 2019-nCoV. Health workers are advised to observe preventive measures and infection control protocols.
“Let us continue to be vigilant. Always practice hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, avoid close contact with people manifesting flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with farm and wild animals, cook food properly, and adopt healthy lifestyles to mount immunity against infections,” Duque said.
The virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly SARS, has killed at least 17 and infected nearly 600 people.
Carriers of the disease have been reported in the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong and in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.