2 on nurse’s flight show signs of MERS-CoV
MANILA, Philippines–Two passengers on the Saudi Airlines flight the Filipino nurse infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) had taken on Feb. 1 have been placed in isolation in different hospitals after showing signs of the deadly virus, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
In a press briefing on Sunday, Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said that one of the two passengers being closely monitored was considered a “patient under investigation,” while the other was a “MERS-CoV suspect.”
“The hospitals where they are now can manage them even if they turn out positive. A team from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will fly to where they are,” Garin said.
She also reported that all 11 people who had close contact with the infected nurse turned out negative in the second round of testing, which used rectal and sputum samples.
One of them, however, was not allowed to leave the RITM in Muntinlupa City following results of her X-rays, which made her a “probable case” of MERS-CoV, said Garin.
She explained that a “patient under investigation” exhibited symptoms of the virus such as a cough, difficulty in breathing, fever over 38 degrees, and diarrhea after coming from the Arabian peninsula or being exposed to an infected person.
A “MERS-CoV suspect” is one who develops symptoms after visiting the Middle East, where the virus was first discovered in 2012, or after having close contact with a confirmed case and “has clinical findings in the lungs,” said Garin.
Of the 220 passengers who took the same flight, 126 have been accounted for, 86 of whom tested negative for the virus, Garin said. “We are all awaiting the results of the  remaining passengers,” she added.
Garin said the DOH would terminate its tracking of the rest of the passengers Monday as the 14-day observation period for those who took the flight on Feb. 1 ended Sunday.
“Considering the 14-day incubation period, today (Sunday) will be the last day for contact tracing of the remaining passengers since Feb. 1,” she said, adding that some of the passengers not reached by the DOH had left the country again and the Department of Foreign Affairs was making the coordination.–Jocelyn R. Uy
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