Pinay positive for Mers-Cov

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

DAVAO CITY (Updated) -- A nurse who flew home from Saudi Arabia last week has been confirmed as the Philippines' second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (Mers-Cov).

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the 37-year-old nurse identified only as "AP" is now confined at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.


Mers-Cov is a fatal respiratory illness presenting influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and diarrhea. The World Health Organization said it has recorded 837 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Mers-Cov globally, including at least 291 related deaths, as of July 23.

The nurse and her family are now quarantined awaiting results from further tests. The nurse’s husband, who had a close contact with her, is also confined in SPMC’s Isolation Building.

Results of a test done in the nurse's workplace in eastern Saudi Arabia's Dammam City last August 25 came positive, said Ona.

"This particular patient in Saudi Arabia, hindi na hinintay ang result. Pagdating dito, dun nalaman ang test result sa Saudi na positive for Mers-Cov after the call from the nursing supervisor (She didn’t wait for the test results. She only knew about it when she arrived in the Philippines after her supervisor called and told her)," Ona said.

The nurse arrived in the country last August 29, Friday, with another Filipina nurse through Saudi Airlines Flight SV870.

She and a second Filipino nurse both had a history of taking care of Mers patients in Saudi Arabia and traveled home together.

The other Filipina nurse, identified as "CB", and her family were already brought to the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) to undergo testing on Tuesday.

Ona said the family members of "CB" were also tested after "AP" stayed in their house upon their arrival until the latter boarded a Cebu Pacific flight to go home to General Santos City last Sunday.

"Fortunately, this morning, lumabas ang results nung tests with the other nurse and her family…eight of them are all negative," said Ona.

The family of "CB" from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, is already set for discharge from the LCP in Quezon City.
Health department spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said they are already tracing all the 249 passengers in the flight manifest of Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 870.

They are also contacting all the 143 passengers of the Cebu Pacific Flight SJ997 that flew with "AP" to General Santos City.

Lee Suy appealed to all the passengers of the two flights to coordinate with the Health department immediately and have themselves tested for Mers-Cov.

Passengers of the concerned flight may call DOH hotlines 651-7800 local 2206 to 2207; 0920-9498419; 0915-7725621; and 0922-8841564, or any hospitals nearest to them.


Dr. Ricardo Audan, SPMC chief of clinics, said the nurse was very cooperative for reporting her condition to health authorities in Davao Region.

The patient underwent a throat swab test on Tuesday. She was transferred to SPMC in Davao City on Tuesday night.

“She was already isolated while in Cotabato. When she arrived here she went straight to the Isolation Building and wasn't passed through the emergency room, that’s the protocol,” Audan said.

Audan said another set of test was conducted for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. The result of the test is expected three days from now.

“So far, so good siya. Karon (now), fortunate enough, wala man siya’y respiratory symptoms like cough, cold, fever, body malaise. She is here for confinement and quarantine,” Audan said Wednesday.

He said the husband was allowed to stay with his wife in the isolation center since he insisted to be with her.

The husband was also advised to undergo a set of medical tests since Mers-Cov can be transmitted to anyone whom the positive person had close contact with.

No treatment

“Actually, there isn't exact treatment in dealing with Mers-Cov, not even vaccination, although it's a virus. We treat the underlying diseases. It's symptomatic so if there's cough, we give cough medicine, if there's fever, we give paracetamol. We just avoid nga magkaroon siyang complication kay respiratory man siya so possible nga magka-pneumonia,” Audan said.

He said the SPMC is capable of treating the patient but they have only three rooms for this kind of rare disease.
As a protocol, all staff nurses at the Isolation Ward were advised to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) — N95 respirator, gloves, safety glasses and shoes, hard hats, or coveralls, vests and full body suits — to deal with this kind of disease.

“Para dili na siya gamiton, lahi na pud gamiton nga suit for another nurse,” Audan said.

Audan also advised the public to “not to panic.”

“There is nothing to worry. If positive man siya, i-contain man namo ni siya kasi close contact man ang mode of transmission. Close contact meaning duol ta sa taong infected (If she tests positive we will contain it since close contact is the mode of transmission. Close contact meaning being close to the person infected,)” he said.


The Health department also reminds the public to do the following as Mers-Cov preventive measures: Wash hands often with soap and water; cover the nose and mouth with tissue paper when coughing or sneezing; avoid touching face—especially the eye area, nose and mouth—with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with sick people; and regularly clean frequently touched surfaces (doors, knobs, handles).

The DOH also advised adults to make sure children follow the same precautions. (Sun.Star Davao/AP/HDT/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 05, 2014.

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