No MERS-CoV in Philippines, DOH says

By , on September 5, 2014

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MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday that tests done on the Filipina nurse earlier reported to be positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) have yielded negative results.

Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, spokesperson of the DOH, said that “the patient was negative talaga,” in reference to the MERS-CoV screening tests done on the nurse.

The Filipina nurse, who recently returned to the country, had initially tested positive for the virus in tests done in Saudi Arabia.

As such, the DOH was quick to carry out contact tracing on those who may have been in immediate proximity to the nurse upon her arrival, as well as on all her fellow-passengers on board the flight to Manila.

But with the results of the test proving negative, Suy said that government efforts – such as contact tracing – to rule out MERS-CoV will now be stopped. The DOH had already been in touch with up to 80 people in this particular case.

“Pag tanggap naman ng official result–whether positive or negative–doon magkakaroon ng next decision point. Ito negative siya, ang decision point dito i terminate na lahat ng activity because there is no risk of transmission because there is no infection to be transmitted or any virus na mata-transmit,” he elaborated.

“We can safely say that as of now, the Philippines remains to be MERS-CoV free,” he stated, adding as well that the nurse would be discharged today.

When asked about the alarming initial statement that the nurse tested positive for MERS-CoV, Suy clarified that it was a case of “rumor surveillance” based on a report that originated in Saudi Arabia.

“May nagsabi. May nag-report lang. We call that technically, rumor surveillance, may ganung term,” he said, and noted that the government did the right thing by being proactive about the issue.

“In any other instance, kapag nakatanggap tayo ng report na may positive while waiting for the actual result talaga, the government needs to do some action and it needs to look for those who were onboard as well kailangang umpisahan na yung investigation,” he said.

It was only yesterday that the The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine was able to complete and release to the DOH the actual findings of tests conducted on the Filipina nurse.