By Jennifer P. Rendon and Francis Allan L. Angelo
Three more Chinese nationals underwent medical consultation in Kalibo, Aklan amid the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Dr. Cornelio Cuachon of the Aklan Provincial Health Office said only one person remains in confinement as of this writing.
The patient is a 6-year-old boy from Wuhan City in China, the epicenter of the nCoV outbreak, who was on vacation in Boracay Island. He was reportedly brought to Ciriaco S. Tirol Hospital in Boracay on Thursday, January 23.
The boy was referred to Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) for further examination.
“He is still in the hospital and under oral medication. It will be up for the attending physician to release the boy once his fever subsides and will display no other symptoms,” Cuachon said.
After the Filipina flight attendant, the fourth person who was checked for suspected nCoV infection, authorities “intercepted” an infant at Kalibo International Airport after his body temperature hit 40.5 degrees Celsius (°C).
The child, who is 1 year and six months old, is from Nanjing City, the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province.
The boy was referred to DRSTMH on Wednesday where his body temperature subsided. He stayed at the hospital and was discharged the following day.
Another case was a 32-year-old female from Wuhan City.
The woman came from Boracay Island and was about to board a flight at Caticlan Airport to Manila. She was intercepted in Caticlan because of occasional coughs. She was referred to DRSTMH for a medical check.
Cuachon said she was managed as an outpatient and was released on the same day.
Samples and swabs were taken from the three Chinese for testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila.
Cuachon said medical check-up of persons with fever, cough, and colds is part of precautionary measures.
But he clarified that not one of the 135 passengers of a Royal Air Charter from Wuhan is under surveillance. The passengers departed Wuhan before the lockdown on the city.
The plane arrived at Kalibo International Airport 6:25 a.m. Thursday and passengers headed to Boracay Island.
“When they arrived on Thursday morning, they were screened by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). Wala man sila may gin refer nga may lagnat, ubo, or sipon,” he said.
Because they were cleared by BOQ, the Chinese proceeded to their destination.
“But the advisory is, if may lagnat, ubo, sipon, they have to seek medical attention. Pero in terms that we need to monitor them, we have no guidelines from DOH that if someone came from Wuhan, even if they are asymptotic, we need to monitor them daily. We don’t have a directive from DOH,” Cuachon said.
Meanwhile, Engr. Eusebio Monserate Jr., Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officer-in-charge of the Kalibo International Airport, clarified that they have not received any order for the forced repatriation of airline passengers from Wuhan City.
“We don’t have any authority to repatriate any passenger or tourist here in Aklan. Only the government could do that,” he said.
The surveillance, Monserate said, is under the jurisdiction of the DOH.
“Once passengers arrived at the airport, airport authorities will only screen. Kung may fever sila, that’s the only time that the DOH will monitor their stay here in the country,” he said clarifying that their authority is limited to airport operation.
Before the lockdown at Wuhan City, there were six flights from Wuhan to Kalibo via Royal Air Charter and Pan Pacific Airlines every week.
Around 10 p.m. Thursday, a flight from Kalibo left for Wuhan. Another flight is scheduled to fly to Wuhan from Kalibo today, Jan. 25.
nCoV is transmitted through coughing and sneezing. It is manifested from mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath which may lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, and shock. It is, therefore, important for us to be cautious and attentive.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo City government issued an advisory calling for vigilance amid the nCoV problem.
“Due to the heightened concern regarding the rising cases brought about by the novel coronavirus in other countries and having suspected cases in our nearby province specifically Kalibo, Aklan, the public is hereby strongly advised to practice health safety measures,” the advisory said.
The safety measures include:
-regular hand washing with proper drying of the hands,
-good respiratory hygiene – covering coughs and sneezes with a medical mask, arm/elbow or tissue, and disposing of tissues correctly,
-early self-isolation of those feeling unwell, feverish and experiencing other respiratory symptoms,
-avoid close contact with sick people,
-avoid spitting in public,
-avoid touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth, and
-adhering to food safety and hygiene rules such as avoiding undercooked meats or unsafe water.
Local leaders must also help monitor persons who travelled to affected areas.
“Likewise, the community leaders are strongly encouraged to conduct active case surveillance through their barangay health emergency teams particularly their barangay health workers in identifying persons who are new arrivals from countries with reported positive cases such as Wuhan, China or anywhere from China, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and United States, monitoring them for early signs of illness such as fever and cough and do referral to the nearest health facility.”
All health facilities, main and barangay health centers were also directed to be vigilant and to report immediately all suspected cases within 24 hours on a daily basis to the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development.