A health official on Wednesday confirmed that a local nurse was declared as a person under investigation for novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), making her the second PUI in Bohol and the first resident of the province to be suspected of infection of the dreaded disease.
The confirmation was made by the Capitol’s anti nCoV-technical working group spokesperson Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez before joining a closed-door meeting of the TWG which was called right after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the country’s third case of the fast-spreading disease.
According to Lopez, the female nurse felt “unwell” and is now being isolated.
She was in contact with the 60-year-old woman who was confirmed by the DOH to have been infected with nCoV and was confined at a private hospital in Bohol for nine days starting January 22.
“Considered na siya as PUI kay siya in contact with a person infected,” Lopez said.
Lopez assured that they have been conducting contact-tracing for people who have been in contact with the 60-year-old woman even before the DOH confirmed that she was infected.
“Adto palang sa pag discharge sa pasyente wa na ko mo kompyansa naghimo na ta og contact-tracing as early as January 30,” he said.
The health official noted that if the DOH asks for names of persons who have been in contact with the Chinese patient, they would already be able to provide these.
These include persons she was in contact with at the hotel, hospital and other areas she visited. However, they have yet to track the people who were near the patient when she boarded the Ocean Jet from Cebu City to Tagbilaran City.
She took the 5:30 p.m. trip to Tagbilaran on January 20.
According to Lopez, epidemiology experts are expected to arrive in Bohol on Thursday to follow up on the contact-tracing efforts.
In light of the revelation that the patient traveled to Bohol and was admitted at a hospital in the province, Lopez said that local health authorities did everything “right” in their capacity to handle the infected Chinese patient even prior to the release of “decision tools” or official protocols from the DOH in handling PUIs.
“At our level sa Bohol, wala tay sipyat. Wala tay lapses as far as we are concerned,” he added.
Lopez explained that they confined the 60-year-old woman at an isolation room for nine days and did not allow her to leave until two confirmatory tests which were sent to the RITM and Australia yielded negative results.
The DOH has noted that the woman was only confirmed to have been infected with nCoV on February 3, three days after the she left the country, while previous tests yielded negative results.
“Ang protocol duha ka sample taken 24 hours apart…Negative ang first sample taken by the RITM ( Research Institute for Tropical Medicine). Negative ang second sample na gikuha sa Australia,” he said.
Lopez said that she was only found out to be positive after the RITM recently purchased a new machine that can detect the nCoV. The newly acquired machine was then used to test older samples taken from the patient which then yielded a positive result.
“Repeat testing ni maong maingon na belated na ang atong pagpahibaw diri sa Bohol,” he said.
The RITM was previously only capable of detecting coronavirus but not determine the exact strain which prompted the DOH to submit samples to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia which can detect the nCoV.
It was only recently that the RITM acquired a device that can do the same.
DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo also clarified that it was the January 23 swab sample of the 60-year-old woman that yielded a positive result while the January 24 sample was already negative, indicating that patient may have already been free of the disease just a day apart.
The DOH reported that the woman came from the city of Wuhan, ground zero of the nCoV. She traveled to Hong Kong then Bohol via Cebu on January 20.
Earlier today, Lopez reported that the first test for nCoV done on a 31-year-old Chinese woman in Bohol who has been deemed as PUI since last week returned negative.
It was however clarified that the woman who is the province’s first officially decalred PUI will not yet be discharged from isolation pending the result of the second test.
Two swab tests should be taken 24 hours apart and should both come out negative for a person to be cleared as a PUI for nCoV.
Domingo reported on Wednesday that as of 12 noon, the accumulative number of PUIs across the Philippines was at 133. Of the figure, 115 are isolated, 16 have been discharged, and two have died.
Among the PUIs, 63 are Filipinos, 54 are Chinese, and 16 are foreign nationals from various countries. (with R. Tutas)