By Macon Araneta

No Filipino is yet to be confirmed with the 2019 novel corona-virus (nCoV) amid the increasing number of Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) which soared to 80 and the first death outside China reported in the Philippines.

In a news briefing, Health Sec. Francisco Duque categorically stated that it’s very clear that the fatality is from China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on February 2 announced the death of a 44-year old Chinese man who was admitted and isolated at San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila. He developed severe pneumonia which caused his death.

“Because of this, he said the death was included in the statistics of China and not the Philippines and not ours,” said Duque.

Duque also reported that of the 80 PUIs, 67 are currently admitted and isolated, while 10 have been discharged under strict monitoring.

He said the DoH also reported one PUI mortality, a 29-year old Chinese man who was among those being monitored for the new corona-virus, who died of complications due to pneumonia. He was found negative of the dreaded virus.

He also said the there was one death, the Chinese man who came from Wuhan, and traveled to the Philippines last January 21 with the 38-year old Chinese woman, one of the two confirmed cases.

The Chinese woman, who came from Wuhan – the epicenter of the novel corona-virus outbreak — traveled to Cebu and Dumaguete before seeking treatment for mild cough in Manila

According to Duque, the substantial increase in the number of PUIs is due to the strengthened surveillance system and contact tracing of the Epidemiology Bureau.

“We have also expanded the PUI category coverage to the whole of China, following the recent imposition of travel ban to mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau,” Duque said.

At present, he said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine also confirmed that 30 PUIs have tested negative for 2019-nCoV, while two have tested positive, and 48 results are pending.

The Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases met with President Rodrigo Duterte recently, together with other government agencies and resource persons, to discuss developments and next steps on the management of 2019-nCoV ARD in the country.

At the same time, Duque renewed his reminders to the public to practice prevention measures such as proper handwashing, observance of cough etiquette and maintaining healthy lifestyles for added resistance against infections.

Meanwhile, DoH-Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Chito Avelino related that eight out of the over 70 persons tracked down by the DoH for having been in contact with the Chinese couple infected with the new corona-virus are exhibiting symptoms of coughs and colds during contact tracing.

Avelino said that the DoH was able to trace a total of 74 persons who had been at close range with the Chinese couple infected with corona-virus. The couple reportedly traveled to the cities of Cebu and Dumaguete.

He said they were immediately advised in what to do with regards to home quarantine. He clarified that home quarantine is similar to isolation inside a house. This means they should not interact with family members under the 14-day quarantine.

Avelino did not mention the exact whereabouts of the said persons.