Philippines' Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed Sunday the second coronavirus-acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV-ARD) case, and first death in the country and outside China.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Duque said the 44-year-old Chinese male companion of the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the country, a 38-year-old Chinese woman, also tested positive for the virus and died yesterday (Saturday) due to nCoV.
Both came from Wuhan, China and were confined at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
The death of the Chinese male is also the first reported death of a person testing positive for the novel coronavirus outside China.
"This is the first reported death outside China. However, we need to take in mind that this is not a locally acquired case. This patient came from the epicenter of the outbreak, Wuhan, China," said Dr. Rabi Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization representative in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, 24 patients under investigation tested negative for the novel coronavirus, while four others are awaiting results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
According to Duque, the 44-year-old Chinese male arrived with his female companion in the Philippines on January 21 via Hong Kong from Wuhan. The two went to Cebu and Dumaguete first before flying to Manila.
The Chinese male was admitted for pneumonia last January 25 at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila after experiencing "fever, cough and sore throat."
"Over the course of the patient's admission, he developed severe pneumonia. In his last few days, the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement. However, the condition of the patient deteriorated within the past 24 hours resulting in his demise," Duque said.
Health spokesperson Eric Domingo said the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the country, on the other hand, no longer experiences symptoms of the infection such as fever and cough. However, she has yet to be discharged from the hospital.
Duque added they are currently working with the Chinese Embassy for the dignified management of the remains of the Chinese male according to national and international standards.
"DOH is assuring the public that all measures needed to contain the spread of the virus is being strictly implemented and followed. San Lazaro Hospital has implemented rigorous infection control protocols while caring for these patients," he said.
"The Epidemiology Bureau (EB) of the department is currently conducting contact tracing of passengers aboard the flights of the two positive cases. EB has secured the manifestos of the flights and is in close coordination with the concerned airlines," he added.
Contract tracing activities are likewise being conducted in Cebu, Dumaguete and in other places that the patient visited, Duque said.
"Currently, there are no reports of community spread of the virus within the country. However, the public is still reminded to practice prevention measures such as proper hand hygiene and observance of cough etiquette," he added.
As of 12 noon on Saturday, Duque said five additional PUIs are currently being monitored by the DOH, bringing the total number of these patients in the country to 36.
Of this number, 23 are currently admitted and isolated, while 10 have been discharged under strict monitoring.
Meanwhile, the earlier-reported death of a PUI in San Lazaro Hospital tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to implement a temporary travel ban on all travelers coming from mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau amid the threat of the novel coronavirus.
Senator Bong Go made the announcement on Sunday morning in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV aired on GMA News TV.
Go, in making the announcement, emphasized that the travel ban covers not only Chinese nationals but all travelers from China to the Philippines regardless of nationality.
Meanwhile, Filipinos and Philippine residents who will come from China will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period upon arriving in the Philippines.
While Duque said last week that Filipinos arriving from China would be "taken care of in a health facility" for the quarantine, the Manila International Airport Authority on Sunday said that the arrivals from China, Hong Kong and Macau will instead subject themselves to a 14-day self-quarantine at home, to be monitored by health authorities. —LBG/KG/BM, GMA News