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Kin of coronavirus-positive elderly Filipino citizen shows symptoms

A relative of the senior citizen who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines has started to show symptoms of respiratory illness and is now being monitored, the Department of Health  said Friday.

"Based on contact tracing and based from the initial investigations we've done last night and early this morning, we already have one relative, who has been with the patient all throughout, has already experienced symptoms and is now with him in our referral hospital," Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

"The specimen was collected and we are just awaiting results," she added.

A 62-year-old male with no travel history abroad tested positive for the virus on March 5, according to the DOH. He was the country's fifth COVID-19 positive case.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the patient frequented a Muslim prayer hall in Barangay Greenhills in San Juan City.

"The absence of travel [history] is a clear indication that this is a local case," he said.

He, however, was quick to emphasize that it is still premature to say that there is local transmission.

"There is no transmission to speak about yet because we only have one. That's why we're doing contact tracing," Duque said.

'No recommendation to avoid prayer hall'

Health officials refused to disclose the exact name of the prayer hall and released no recommendation to avoid the area.

"The mere presence of one confirmed case does not mean that we need to close down the prayer hall," World Health Organization country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said.

"Unless we have evidence that there are [other] infected people, there is no evidence for us to say not to go there," he added.

Nevertheless, Duque advised the previous visitors of the prayer hall to call the DOH hotline (02)8-651-7800 local 1149-1150, should they exhibit symptoms.

They will be referred to the appropriate health facility, he added.