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Former DOH Secretary: NCoV spreads faster than SARS, but not as virulent

Former Health Secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit said on Wednesday that the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) has a tendency to spread faster than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"Itong coronaviruses na ito, nagbabago ng anyo, mabilis. May kinalaman 'yan sa genetic make-up niya. Katulad ng trangkaso yung virus na 'yon mabilis mag-mutate," Dayrit said in an interview with "Stand for Truth" on Wednesday.

"Ganito rin ang (2019) nCoV because of chance. Ang kanyang kasarinlan bilang virus hindi ganon katindi ang kapasidad niya na pumatay ng tao. Pero ang kapasidad niya na kumalat mas mabilis," he added.

Dayrit said the 2019 nCoV may spread faster than SARS, but it is less virulent than the latter.

He also noted that the global healthcare system has undergone a significant change, following the SARS outbreaks from 2002 to 2003.

"Noong 2003, hindi ganon ka-develop ang infrastructure ng infection control. Dito sa Pilipinas ang mga ospital natin kulang sa isolation rooms ngayon mas marami na sa isolation rooms. 'Yung ating doctors at nurses mas alam na nila yung gagawin sa mga ganitong pagkakataon," he said.

Dayrit added that the Bureau of Quarantine is more prepared to identify and recommend patients for isolation by using thermal scanners.

The doctor emphasized that in 2003, there were no diagnostic or laboratory tools that could help identify the virus.

At present, the UP National Institutes of Health have developed a 2019 nCoV detection kit which was developed two weeks after the whole genome sequence of the virus was released.

On Wednesday, the country confirmed its third case of 2019 nCoV. The Department of Health stressed that there was no case of human-to-human transmission of the said virus.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the country currently has 133 suspected 2019 nCoV cases and 115 of these were admitted at hospitals, while 16 patients have been discharged. — BAP, GMA News