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DOH secretary Duque urges netizens not to spread unverified claims of coronavirus infection

By: Futch Anthony Inso, Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | January 22,2020 - 10:24 AM

People wear face masks as they ride an escalator at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. | AP Photo


CEBU CITY, Philippines – Prior to the announcement from the Department of Health (DOH), unofficial reports of the five-year-old Chinese child in Cebu City who contracted an unidentified coronavirus already made rounds online.

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed in a press conference that they are investigating a 5 year-old child from Wuhan City who tested positive for a non-specific pan-corona virus.

However, unverified reports that a suspected case of the 2019 novel coronavirus – or 2019-nCoV – recorded in Cebu have been circulating on social media days leading to the announcement, some of which stated several similar details disclosed by the health bureau.

These include the information that the patient infected by the virus was a 5-year-old child from Wuhan City, and accompanied by his mother, and that the child was having fever and cough.

This is a screenshot contributed to CDN Digital. The contributor, who requested anonymity, told CDN that this was making the rounds on Facebook on January 18, 2020. The contributor also asked CDN Digital to censor the identity of the post’s author as well as its accompanying caption or status. As of January 20, similar posts have been taken down.

READBureau of Quarantine, local health units are on top of coronavirus situation: DOH-7 assures

Duque, for his part, urged netizens not to spread unverified claims. He stressed that validating such details by authorized health officials takes time.

“Before we have to discuss and share the information to the public, we have to investigate the case and validate the information. It took us some time especially with the tests and laboratories,” said Duque in a press conference on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

READWHO Philippines: No confirmed 2019-nCoV in the Philippines to date

Samples and specimen from the 5-year-old patient were sent to an advanced laboratory institution in Australia to determine if the unidentified coronavirus strain is a match to the 2019-nCoV, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan City in China.

Wuhan City in the Hubei Province in central China is the same city where the 5-year-old child being investigated by DOH came from.

READBureau of Quarantine, local health units are on top of coronavirus situation: DOH-7 assures

The virus has spread to several cities in China including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and reportedly to other countries outside China – Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and just recently in the United States.

READWashington man is 1st in US to catch new virus from China

The virus has claimed six lives up to date.

Duque said the results they are expecting from Australia is crucial in determining if the child infected by the unidentified coronavirus strain matched that of the 2019 new Coronavirus.

On the other hand, DOH also said they are monitoring three individuals with flu-like symptoms from Aklan in Western Visayas. However, unlike the case in Cebu, they don’t have any travel history from Wuhan.

The agency has since issued a health advisory, and is also advising the public to take hygiene seriously.

“DOH advises the public to practice frequent handwashing, avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, practice proper cough etiquette – maintain distance and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow, avoid close contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms, and ensure that food is well-cooked,” the agency stated in a press release.

READ: MORE INFO: DOH probes 5-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu City who tested positive of unidentified coronavirus strain

“I urge travelers with symptoms of respiratory illness, either during or after travel, to seek medical attention immediately. I also call on our health facilities to enhance standard infection prevention and control practices, especially in our emergency departments. We must always be ready,” Duque added. /bmjo

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TAGS: COVID-19, Department of Health, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Wuhan City, Wuhan coronavirus

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