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Philippines confirms first novel coronavirus case

The Philippines on Thursday confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus.

At  a press conference, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan, China arrived in the Philippines via Hongkong on January 21.

She sought consultation and was admitted in one of the country's government hospitals on January 25 after experiencing a mild cough.

According to Duque, she is currently asymptomatic, which means she had no fever and no other symptoms suggesting illness.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau chief Dr. Chito Avelino said contact tracing is ongoing to determine the public transportation the confirmed case used and the places she visited.

Avelino said the patient, a tourist, visited Cebu and Dumaguete.

DOH spokesman Eric Domingo said she was in a hospital in Manila.

"I assure the public that the DOH is on top of this evolving situation. We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies," Duque said.

"We are working closely with the hospital where the patient is admitted and have activated the incident command system of the said hospital for appropriate management specifically on infection control, case management and containment," he added.

"We are also implementing measures to protect the health staff providing care to these patients," Duque said.

According to Duque, there are currently 29 persons under investigation for possible nCoV infection nationwide.

Eighteen is in Metro Manila, four in Central Visayas, three in Western Visayas, one in MIMAROPA, one in Eastern Visayas, one in Northern Mindanao, and one in Davao.

Meanwhile, 23 are currently admitted while five have been discharged but are still under strict monitoring.

On Wednesday, a person under investigation died at the San Lazaro Hospital.

Due to this, Duque urged the public to remain calm and vigilant.

"Finally, I urge the public to stay calm and remain vigilant at all times. Let us continue to practice good personal hygiene and adopt healthy lifestyles," Duque said. 

According to Duque, the DOH is in close coordination with the Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, adding that the task force would convene on Friday to discuss the first conformed nCoV case.

Discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the virus has since then spread to other countries.

As of Thursday, the nationwide death toll from China's viral epidemic has leaped to 170 with more than 7,700 infections confirmed. —NB, GMA News