MANILA — Of the 220 co-passengers who were on the same flight as the Filipina nurse found positive with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), at least 86 have already tested negative for the virus, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Sunday.
According to the DOH, of the other passengers in Saudia Flight 860 that arrived in the country last Feb. 1, a total of 126 had already been tracked down as of Sunday.
“For the remaining passengers who have been tracked down so far, we are awaiting the results of their tests,” acting DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin said in a press briefing held Sunday at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila.
At the same time, Dr. Garin said that Feb. 15 was the last day for the contact-tracing of the nurse’s co-passengers because the virus can only be transmitted by the carrier during the 14-day incubation period from Feb. 1.
Garin added, however, that aside from the index patient (the Filipina nurse who tested positive for MERS-Cov), another passenger considered as patient under investigation (PUI) is being monitored also at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
She said that since the PUI has exhibited some manifestations or symptoms of MERS-CoV, health experts recommended further monitoring of the patient.
The PUI was among the 11 co-passengers of the nurse who had undergone the second round of tests which yielded negative results, but has shown symptoms of MERS-CoV.
Dr. Garin said that based on X-ray laboratory results, the patient has a lung problem.
Symptoms of MERS-Cov include flu-like conditions like cough, higher than 38 degrees fever, difficulty of breathing and diarrhea.
Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, three confirmatory tests are needed for patients who exhibited symptoms of MERS-CoV for more precise or accurate result.
A person can be suspected to have MERS-COV if he/she exhibits MERS-CoV symptoms, has a close contact with a MERS-CoV patient or has come from Middle East countries where close contact to a MERSCoV patient could have happened.
Meanwhile, the DOH said the Filipino nurse positive with MERS-Cov is continuing to manifest improvement at the RITM, but a bit emotional over the turnout of events where her townspeople seemed to develop fear or panic over her illness.
The DOH, through spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, said that people should not ostracize the patient as she did not like the disease nor dreamed to have it and such panic will not be good for her condition, since is she also pregnant while undergoing medication.