Foreigner is 2nd MERS case in PH

July 07,2015 - 04:55 AM

Manila — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed yesterday the country’s second case of the dreaded Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in a foreigner from Dubai who showed symptoms of the disease while visiting Manila.

BACKSTORY: Foreigner in PH tests positive for mers

At a press conference, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the 36-year-old patient, now confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), came from Dubai late June and had a short layover in Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first detected in April 2012.

Garin said  the patient also travelled to another country, which she declined to reveal, during the 14-day incubation period since his arrival from the Middle East last month.

The foreigner developed fever and cough on July 2, the 12th day of the incubation period, and sought medical attention at an undisclosed private hospital.

He was immediately confined at the RITM last Saturday when he tested positive for MERS-CoV, a less-transmissible but deadlier cousin of the SARS virus.

The virus is spread from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, through coughing or sneezing, usually after close contact.

Garin said around 200 passengers who were on the second flight with him were being traced.

Lyndon Lee Suy, the health department spokesman, said 19 other close contacts of the foreigner were still being traced.

A 32-year-old pregnant Filipino nurse from Saudi Arabia was the country’s first positive case of the virus in February.

She showed symptoms of the disease shortly after her arrival in the country on Feb. 1.

She was successfully treated at the RITM after a week.

MERS has killed 33 people in South Korea, where 186 cases have been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization.

It is the biggest outbreak outside the Middle East region, where the virus was first seen in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

“Last Saturday, at around 11:30 a.m., the RITM received a referral of a foreigner from the Middle East with cough,” said Garin. “Around 5 p.m. on the same day, the test yielded positive (results). The patient quickly responded and he was confined at the RITM,” Garin said.

Tests also showed that the patient had a low virus load, which meant that he was probably at the “tail-end” of the virus and already recovering from it, according to the health chief.

One of the patient’s close contact, a Filipina companion, has been in isolation at the RITM since Saturday after showing symptoms of the disease./INQUIRER WITH AP

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