Current suspected nCoV cases in PHL jump to 24, with 18 in NCR; but DOH assures no confirmed case yet

Breakdown of the 24 current suspected cases of the deadly novel coronavirus in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy DOH)


(Eagle News) – There are at least 27 persons in the country who have been considered “patients under investigation” (PUIs) for the novel coronavirus infection, and three of them so far have been discharged from hospitals after results showed they are negative of the disease, the Department of Health said.

This brings to 24 the current suspected novel coronavirus infections in the country which are still awaiting confirmatory test results from either the Reasearch Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Taguig City or from Australia, specifically from the Victoria Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)

As of now, 18 have pending tests at the RITM, while another six have samples already sent to Australia for confirmatory testting.

All of the PUIs have travel history to Wuhan or Hubei province, the DOH said.

Eighteen of these cases are in Metro Manila, five of whom were only reported as recent as 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28.

During a press conference of the DOH, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the health department had to update its data while the briefing was ongoing because of the new information.

At the start of the presscon, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the suspected cases were only 22.

But in the middle of the briefing, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo, who also serves as the department spokesperson, said that they just received an update that five more cases in Metro Manila were added today.

“So we now have a total of 27 persons under investigation (PUIs) all over the Philippines,” said Domingo.

Aside from the 18 in Metro Manila, There are three cases in Western Visayas, three in Central Visayas, one in MIMAROPA, one in Eastern Visayas, and one in Northern Mindanao, the DOH said.

“As of today, three of the PUIs have already been discharged as their laboratory results revealed other diseases,” Domingo said.

— 24 patients under investigation, all foreign nationals-

That means there are 24 cases of suspected nCoV infections in the country at present, and are foreigners of various nationalities, mostly Chinese nationals.

Health officials said that the 24 cases will undergo several tests, and swab samples from the mouth and throat would be taken.

Domingo explained that the first stage is a “fast diagnostic test for 33 different pathogens, meaning 33 most common viruses and bacteria that can cause respiratory illness.”

“So if it’s negative for that, so we do a pancoronavirus test, but it does not distinguish what coronavirus it is,” he said.

The patients will then be tested for SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus) and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus), and for four other common coronavirus.

If this did not fit these pathogens, then that is the only time that the patient’s swab samples will be sent to Australia for testing, the DOH official explained.

“So you eliminate one by one,” Domingo said.

Health Secretary Duque stressed that as of now, there is still no confirmed novel coronavirus case and that there is no need to panic.

He added that the case mortality rate for nCov is also low at 2.3 to 2.9 percent, much lower than the 36 percent for MERS-CoV and the 10 to 12 percent for SARS-Cov.