MANILA - Since the Bureau of Quarantine started monitoring international airports in the country this year, it has yet to detect suspicious cases related to the mysterious virus from China, the Department of Health said on Friday.
“There are no suspected cases yet,” said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
“And even if we do detect cases, we have a system ready. We can find them, identify, diagnose, and treat them,” he told ABS-CBN in a phone interview.
Domingo said they are following protocols set up during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak more than a decade ago.
“We have a hospital network,” he said, adding that suspected cases in Metro Manila will be brought to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine or the San Lazaro Hospital.
At least 59 individuals have been confined in Wuhan, a city in central China, because of flu-like symptoms. Some have become seriously ill but none have died. The mysterious illness has been identified as a new kind of coronavirus, a family of viruses that infect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract.
SARS and the new illness detected in Wuhan city in China are both coronaviruses. However, while the deadly SARS virus can be transferred from person to person, the latter cannot, at least based on initial observation.
Domingo also said Filipinos should not be alarmed because of this.
“There is no cause for immediate concern at this time,” Domingo said. “It seems isolated (in Wuhan).”
He said the Bureau of Quarantine been strictly monitoring all passengers coming from China for signs of fever or pneumonia, among the symptoms of the new virus.
While cases have been observed since early December, the outbreak was only announced on December 31. The Bureau of Quarantine started screening on New Year’s Day.
Domingo said the government has not released a travel advisory related to the illness but those planning to visit Wuhan, China are advised to "delay (the trip) or go somewhere else.”
Filipinos traveling to China should also practice regular personal hygiene, wash their hands and use sanitizer, as well as wear a face mask when around sick people.