DOH urges co-passengers of MERSCoV patient to undergo testing

By , on February 12, 2015


Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy (center) confirms that a Filipina nurse who returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 tested positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERSCoV) during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015). He said the nurse is under observation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and contact-tracing of her co-passengers in the plane is being done to ensure that local transmission of the disease can be prevented. At left is DOH Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako. (PNA photo by Leilani S. Junio)
Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy (center) confirms that a Filipina nurse who returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 tested positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERSCoV) during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 11, 2015). He said the nurse is under observation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and contact-tracing of her co-passengers in the plane is being done to ensure that local transmission of the disease can be prevented. At left is DOH Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako. (PNA photo by Leilani S. Junio)

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday urged co-passengers of a Filipina nurse confirmed with MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus) to promptly coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) for testing.

The nurse arrived from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 and currently confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). She will only be released from the hospital and declared “MERS-CoV free” pending results of further tests.

The DOH bared the two hotline numbers where co-passengers of the Filipina nurse may coordinate.

“If you think you are part of this flight, you can call on us at these numbers 711-001 and 711-1002,” said DOH Spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy in a press briefing at the DOH in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Dr. Lee Suy said the DOH has started its contact tracing of the co-passengers who might have been exposed to the patient to ensure that local transmission will be prevented.

“We are appealing to them not to make it hard for us to locate. If we request them to be subjected for testing, we are doing that for their protection and their family members as well…they must understand the consequence of what if they are sick and they exposed themselves to their family and so forth,” Dr. Lee Suy explained.

He added there is a probability that most of the passengers are in the province already, and the DOH together with its regional counterpart is facilitating the conduct of contact tracing.

Based on experts, he maintained the probability of co-passengers in the plane being infected is low, but said that it will help a lot if the passengers will undergo testing especially those who sat near the patient.

“It will also help if anyone feeling the symptoms similar to MERSCoV will undergo check-up especially those who was included in the flight,” he added.

Upon arriving, the Filipina nurse did not manifest symptoms while passing through the thermal scanner at the airport.

The following day, the nurse began exhibiting the symptoms which prompted her to immediately seek the advice of a physician and was referred to the RITM in Alabang, Muntinlupa where she had undergone a series of three (3) laboratory confirmatory testing which all yielded positive on Feb. 10.

The DOH also included her husband among those that need to be observed and monitored aside from other relatives who had close contact with the patient.

The 32-year old nurse is currently confined at the negative pressure room of RITM and will be scheduled to be out from the hospital as soon as other tests will all yield negative to be declared “MERS-CoV free”.

The DOH made the disclosure to the public to ensure the proper dissemination of information on the proper handling of the disease.

DOH Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako relayed the message of DOH Acting Secretary Janette L. Garin the readiness of the department in treating emerging infectious diseases but appealed to the public not to delay consultation if they feel the symptoms particularly if they came from the Middle East region.