The isolation room at the ONP where two foreign children or persons under investigation (PUI) are being monitored due to flu-like symptoms. Photo by Genn Magdayao.

Two foreign children are being monitored in an isolation room by physicians at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) for showing flu-like symptoms in relation to the deadly Wuhan coronavirus.

Dr. Audie Cipriano, chief of the medical professional staff of the ONP, said Saturday in an interview with Palawan News that the 10-year-old Brazilian girl arrived at 1 a.m. with her family from El Nido and was immediately isolated.

The girl has the flu, while her father has an inflamed throat, he said.

Cipriano said the family, though Brazilians, were from Wuhan, China and traveled to the Philippines to El Nido for a vacation.

“They are from Wuhan, China at pumunta sila ng El Nido for vacation. Then ‘yong father ay may sore throat pero walang flu. Ang mother ay okay at walang sakit, tapos ‘yong bata may flu,” Cipriano said.

The other person under investigation (PUI) is a 6-year-old Taiwanese boy who was admitted around 6 a.m. also Saturday for having the flu. His parents are in good condition.

“The second one was a Taiwanese boy, who was referred by Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP) this morning. Actually, ang hindi pa natin sigurado ay ang exposure nila kasi ang sabi lang ay may nakasabay sila na mga galing Wuhan tapos may flu ang bata kaya nag-consult na sila,” he said.

For purposes of safety, Cipriano said both families were also placed in isolation at the ONP.


Scene on Saturday morning at the ONP, where two families have been placed in isolation in relation to the 2019-nCoV. Photo by Genn Magdayao.

He said they were provided with personal protective clothing and other gear to be safe from infection.

“Nasa isolation room silang lahat although ang dalawang bata lang naman ang naka-admit. Ang family nila ay may protective gear na rin para hindi mahawa. ‘Yong bata may fever, respiratory symptoms plus she came from Wuhan kaya siya lang ang na-admit sa family nila. ‘Yong Taiwanese naman ay questionable ang exposure, pero may difficulty of breathing at respiratory symptoms kaya we have to admit the child,” he said.

Don’t panic, but be vigilant

He said the yardsticks released by the Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) in placing patients under investigation and isolation in relation to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are “they should be from Wuhan or have been exposed to people who came from the Chinese city, respiratory symptoms, fever, and difficulty in breathing”.

Cipriano said instead of panicking, people should instead practice vigilance. If people have three out of four in the list of what to look for, they should already consult their physicians.

“Yong apat na ‘yan ay basis namin for admitting the patient for confirmatory and it doesn’t mean na na-admit ay confirmed na may coronavirus, ‘yon ang gusto kong ipaalam sa publiko,” he said.

“If you have three out of four or four out of four, you are a candidate for confirmatory or confirmation, but still, it doesn’t mean that if you have these symptoms ay you already have the coronavirus, malinaw po sana ‘yan. Hangga’t wala tayong confirmed cases sa bansa ay hindi naman ibig sabihin may novel coronavirus na. Kapag nararamdaman mo ang symptoms lalo na kung hindi ka naman nakapunta o wala kang nakasalamuha na from Wuhan, walang dahilan para mag-panic,” he explained.

He said that the specimen of the PUIs will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and to the Victorian Infectious Diseases References Laboratory (VIDRL) in Australia to identify the specific coronavirus strain.

There is no confirmed 2019-nCov case in Palawan yet, he reiterated.

“Yong specimen ay ipapadala natin sa RITM hinihintay lang natin ang median or ‘yong paglalagyan then ‘yong RITM naman ang magfo-forward sa Australia for validation kung novel coronavirus nga sya,” Cipriano said.

He said that patients will be observed within 15 days, but will be released from the isolation room if they are already in good condition.

The ONP has one four-bed capacity isolation room.

Cipriano said that parents are also cooperating to undergo the process and protocols being imposed by the hospital.

“Sa protocol ay 15 days sila sa isolation room pero kung maging maayos na ang kalagayan nila ay ilalabas na rin agad sila. Cooperative naman ang parents nila ‘yon nga lang dahil bakasyaon ay may mga biyahe sila. Ang sabi naman namin ay kung aalis sila ay ganoon pa rin ang mangyayari na bawat airport ay iho-hold sila, magkakaproblema pa rin,” he said.

“Sana po ‘wag silang magpanic, hindi naman natin masabi pa na alarming na ito kasi lahat ay suspected lang. Inuulit po namin na wala tayong confirmed case so far. Mabuti nga at nag-consult agad ang mga turista sa ating mga health personnel at least aware sila. Walang dapat ikabahala ang publiko but sinabi nga natin na i-observe ang proper hygiene at palakasin ang immune system,” Cipriano said.

Earlier this week, a Russian national in Coron reportedly from Wuhan was investigated for suspected symptoms of nCoV but turned out negative.

Health declaration checklist

The City Health Office (CHO) on Friday, meanwhile, appealed to tourists and other travelers arriving in Puerto Princesa to fill up truthfully and as complete as possible the health declaration checklist that will be presented to them upon arrival at the international airport here.

The distribution is part of the precautionary measure in view of the current existence of the Wuhan coronavirus scare. He said there is a need to know the travel history and health conditions of the travelers, especially those from abroad.

“Ang gusto natin mangyari, ‘yong kabilin-bilinan ni mayor [Lucilo Bayron] ay gusto niya na walang makakapasok kaya nagco-coordinate tayo dito. ‘Yong arrival sa airport at saka doon sa port (seaport) meron agency talaga dyan, Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ),” he said.

“Kapag galing na dito o wala na sa airport, should there be any instance na halimbawa meron talagang person under suspicion, ang ONP naman ang may responsibility. Meron ng hiwalay na ambulance na anytime ay pwedeng kumuha sa airport or doon sa community, kunyare nakalagpas dito kasi may incubation period,” he said.

On the checklist, the passenger will indicate his/her travel history, if there are similar symptoms experienced, or if they happened to work with or be exposed to a person having the novel coronavirus. The hotel they are going to stay in and their areas planning to visit will be included.

Panganiban said they will include translations of the health declaration checklist to Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean languages to address communication barriers.

“Magko-coordinate kami sa mga taga-tourism kasi may mga contact sila na pwede mag-interpret, pero ultimately yong checklist namin ay lalagyan na agad ng translation, kunyare, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, English pa (yong gagamitin), ibibigay namin yon sa mga airline para doon pa lang sa level nila ay meron na agad silang form para pagdating ditto ay isa-submit na lang nila,” he said.

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