February 22, 2024

The Department of Health and the City Health Services Office (CHSO) on Wednesday confirmed they are monitoring an individual who exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus, but doctors from both offices stressed there is no case of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Cordillera yet.
The individual from China who arrived in the region last Jan. 19 was advised to only do self-quarantine for at least four days. Throat samples were also taken from him and his two roommates for screening by the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila.
The individual lives and studies in La Trinidad, Benguet, but sought consultation in Baguio.
DOH-CAR Senior Health Program Officer Karen Lonogan said the individual did not exhibit any of the criteria laid down by the World Health Organization that would necessitate quarantine in a health care facility.
The individual does not have a history of travel to Wuhan, China and never had close contact with a confirmed 2019-nCoV case, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or sick animals.
For someone to be considered a person under investigation (PUI), an individual should be exhibiting the signs and symptoms of coronavirus infection such as fever, cough, colds, shortness of breath, had a history of travel in Wuhan, has close contact with sick animals, or had close contact with a confirmed 2019-nCoV patient.
Lonogan said the individual and his roommates are periodically monitored by health officials until the end of their self-quarantine. As of Wednesday, all are said to be well.
The DOH has assured it is on top of the situation.
DOH-CAR Director III Janice Bugtong said all health facilities in the region have been ordered to activate their Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease fast lanes, ensure availability of isolation rooms, and re-activate their referral system and surveillance for influenza-like illness.
The DOH central office is also assessing the capacity management of all hospitals in the region. So far, the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart, Pines City Doctors Hospital, all in Baguio; the Conner District Hospital and the Far North Luzon General Hospital, both in Apayao, have all the facilities and are implementing protocols when dealing with infectious diseases, said DOH-CAR Infectious Diseases cluster head Jennifer Joyce Pira.
For BGH, Medical Center chief Ricardo Ruñez said by Feb. 4, the hospital will be equipped with the testing kit that could detect the 2019-nCoV. He said this would make confirmation of specimens faster as the samples no longer have to be sent to Australia.
Other hospitals in the region are currently being assessed.
For international schools and accommodation facilities, City Health Officer Rowena Galpo said the department has oriented administrators of concerned schools, hotels, inns, lodging, and pension houses on the referral system for people who could be potential carriers of the nCoV.
Meanwhile, doctors of the DOH, CHSO, and the BGH appealed to the public not to believe or refrain from sharing unverified information on the Internet regarding the 2019-nCoV.
Using published studies by the WHO and Centers for Disease Control as basis, BGHMC infectious diseases specialist Thea Cajulao said the best defense against 2019-nCoV or any disease is still to follow basic hygiene practices such as frequent washing of hands, practice respiratory etiquette, wash and cook food thoroughly, avoid contact with sick persons especially those with acute respiratory conditions, avoid crowded places, and if signs and symptoms persist, proceed to the nearest health facility.
She said since the 2019n-CoV or any of the known strains of coronavirus is known to thrive in areas with cooler temperatures, it is important to wear clothing to make one warm to avoid acquiring diseases of the upper respiratory tract.
The 2019n-CoV is a new strain of coronavirus. It has no specific vaccine or antiviral drugs yet for treatment, but its symptoms can be treated.
The DOH also said the public need not wear facemasks. Pira said only those who come in close contact with patients, such as medical personnel and those who travelled to ground zero or the area where the outbreak occurred, and those who are sick, are required to wear to facemasks or other protectivegear.
“Use face masks properly and only when necessary,” DOH-CAR OIC Director Amelita Pangilinan added.
The DOH last Jan. 30 announced the first 2019-nCoV case in the Philippines. In a situational report dated Jan. 31, the agency has recorded 31 PUIs where 23 are admitted in a hospital, six discharged, and one death.
The first mortality was due to pneumonia but the patient is said to be immunocompromised or whose immune system cannot fight off infections.
As of press time Friday, regions where PUIs have been recorded are in the National Capital Region with 19, four each in the Western and Central Visayas, and one each in Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, and Davao.
On a global scale, in its Jan. 30 situation report, the WHO reported there are now 7,818 confirmed cases with China having 7,736 confirmed cases; 12,167 suspected cases; 1,370 severe cases, and 170 deaths. Outside China, there are now 82 confirmed cases in 18 countries.
The WHO on Jan. 31 has declared the coronavirus outbreak a public-health emergency of international concern.– Rimaliza A. Opiña