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The Department of Health Center for Health Development (DOH CHD)-MIMAROPA assures the Filipino people that there is still no confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the region and clarifies that the circulating rumor regarding the alleged case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Coron, Palawan last Jan. 22 is still “unverified.”
In the official statement of DOH-CHD MIMAROPA that was released yesterday, they reiterated that there is no reason to panic but enjoined the public to empower themselves with correct and timely information.
The circulating social media post of a private doctor from the said municipality alarmed the health workers because of its caption that says, “Just saw two young women…a Russian and a young oriental whom I thought was a Filipina. The young Russian came in for a sore throat. Upon further questioning…I found out [that] they were from Wuhan, China.”
The new coronavirus or simply the 2019-nCov was originated from Wuhan City, Hubei Province in China and has been postulated that the source of infection are snakes. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and it is zoonotic or the virus can be transmitted from animal to person or infected human to others through air and or close contact.
Following the said issue, the Local Government Unit of Coron immediately made its move to validate the report and invited the doctor and the two foreigners who sought consultation, for a thorough case investigation in close coordination with the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU).
“Ito po ay under investigation pa rin. So, ‘yung pasyente po o ‘yung alleged po na nakita o nagpa-check-up sa ating private practitioner o private doctor is currently pa rin po siyang tini-treat. At ang aming surveillance unit din po ay nag-coordinate na rin po sa ating surveillance coordinator para maimbestigahan po itong kaso. So, hangga’t wala po tayong resulta, kung ito po ay nakuhaan na po natin ng specimen ay hindi pa rin po ito confirmed as positive,” according to Cherry Ann Candava, program manager of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease (ERID), National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the DOH.
As part of the precautionary measures, she added that the Department has already requested the said physician and her staff to take the necessary steps.
“Nakausap na rin po [namin] ‘yung doktor na sumuri po doon sa pasyente po na galing sa Wuhan, China…[at] nabigyan [namin] ng abiso na mag-isolate or huwag po munang makipaghalubilo sa maraming tao kasi may possibility po na siya ay mayroong infection,” Candava said.
But the Department categorically said that they are prepared enough if in case the alleged case turns out positive.
“Then, nagbigay na rin po ng advice na to take precautionary measures na kung sakali pong sila ay positibo ay hindi na po ito kumalat at magdulot ng takot,” she added. “Ang LGU naman po is doing their best po para re-solve po agad itong issue na ito.”
The DOH will also soon release a memorandum to all health facilities in MIMAROPA, especially in the province of Palawan to ensure its preparedness in terms of human resource, isolation facilities, laboratory supplies, and reporting system, for instance, in the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) in the City of Puerto Princesa, Culion Sanitarium General Hospital in the Municipality of Culion and in all municipal and district hospitals.
The Health Department also already coordinated with all the airports and seaports for the posting of health advisories and other Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to provide correct information to travelers coming in and out of the region.
“Bale next week po, kami po ay darating diyan para magbigay po ng advisory po at iba pang IEC materials sa mga matataong lugar,” Romalyn Racho, health education and promotion officer of DOH-CHD MIMAROPA informed the Palawan Daily News (PDN).
Keeping the immune system strong
Also in the press statement, DOH CHD MIMAROPA Regional Director Mario Baquilod encouraged the public to keep their immune system strong against the new strain of coronavirus and practice basic healthy behavior like hand washing and proper cough etiquette.
He also made an appeal to those travelers who are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness to go to the nearest hospital to seek consultation, especially those who came from places with reported cases of 2019-nCoV.
“Although there are currently no vaccines available against human coronavirus, there are ways to prevent the risk of infection by regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, keeping the immune system strong, and avoiding close contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms,” Dir. Baquilod explained.
Symptoms, ways to avoid the zoonotic virus
Common signs of coronavirus infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, and cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
According to Candava, although the virus is new, but in terms of preparations and precautions to avoid it is the same—thru basic hygiene.
“Manatili pong aware saka po para maprotektahan natin ang ating mga sarili, iminumungkahi po namin na palaging maghugas ng kamay, at kung maaari pong umiwas sa mga taong may sintomas na may ubo, at sipon. Kailangan din po nating palakasin ang ating mga resistensiya, so, kailangan pong uminom ng maraming tubig. Of course, sigurihin pong ang mga kinakain natin, lalo na ang karne ay [dapat talagang] luto,”
The DOH also appeals to the public to refrain from posting fake or unverified news in order to avoid panic ang fear among the people.
—with reports from DOH-CHD MIMAROPA