Foreigner with MERS now free of virus
The foreign national who earlier tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is now free of the virus, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DOH spokesperson, said in a press briefing that two laboratory tests on the 36-year-old foreigner yielded negative results. He added that the patient is scheduled to be discharged from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) over the weekend.
However, Lee Suy said the DOH cannot declare the country MERS-free just yet as the foreigner’s 32-year-old female close contact still has to complete the 14-day quarantine period.
“The foreigner’s female companion is still under observation for possible MERS infection. Although she already tested negative from MERS, the patient will remain in the hospital until she completes the 14-day quarantine day period that will end on July 18,” Lee Suy said.
Until now, the Filipino companion of the foreigner from the Middle East is not manifesting any symptoms of the infection, he said.
The foreigner came from Dubai late last month and had a short layover in Saudi Arabia, where MERS was first identified in April 2012. The patient also traveled to an undisclosed country during the 14-day incubation period since he arrived from the Middle East last month.
The foreigner developed fever and cough on the 12th day of the incubation period, and sought medical attention at an undisclosed private hospital. He was transferred immediately to the RITM when tests yielded positive for MERS.
It was the second case of MERS since February when a Filipino nurse tested positive for the virus after returning from the Middle East.
The DOH also disclosed that it has already traced the 112 other “contacts” of the foreigner who were possibly exposed to the virus.
“They are now being monitored daily by experts from the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit until they complete the 14-day observation period,” Lee Suy said.
He said the DOH will no longer look for the other copassengers of the foreigner since those they managed to contact have not manifested symptoms of MERS.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) still does not recommend the imposition of any travel, trade or screening restrictions despite the entry of the second MERS case in the Philippines.
“WHO still does not recommend travel restriction unless a person had a close contact with a MERS infected person,” said Julie Hall, country representative for the WHO.
She said those who had close contact with a MERS patient are advised not to travel and to isolate themselves until after the 14-day incubation period of the virus.
Hall also advised travelers coming from MERS-infected countries to maintain a high level of vigilance and self-care.
In a statement, Health Secretary Janette Garin reiterated her call on Filipinos who will come from MERS-affected countries to immediately visit the nearest hospital once they feel any symptoms of the infection.
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