The number of persons investigated for suspected novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) infection in Bohol is now down to four from five after one person under investigation (PUI) for the disease was cleared by health authorities.
Doctor Yul Lopez, spokesperson for the Capitol’s anti-nCoV technical working group, said that the patient, a 31-year-old Chinese woman, is set to be discharged Friday from an undisclosed hospital in Tagbilaran City.
Her pending discharge comes after her second swab sample test conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City yielded a negative result which was released on Thursday. The first test result issued Wednesday also returned negative.
“Atong e-discharge ang usa ka PUI na 31-year-old kay nagpakita na negative siya sa first sample sa RITM ug negative second sample,” said Lopez in an interview over station dyRD on Friday morning.
There are now four PUIs in Bohol—two American women who recently travelled to Beijing, China and two Filipino nurses who were caregivers to the 60-year-old Chinese woman who was admitted at a hospital in Tagbilaran City last month and was later confirmed to have been infected with nCoV.
Lopez earlier confirmed that the two Americans who were travelling together were confined at an isolation ward at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital while the two nurses were isolated at a private hospital in the city.
Swab samples have been taken from all four PUIs and sent to the RITM.
The health official has repeatedly explained that PUIs are not confirmed to be infected with nCoV, but are persons who have larger chances of having contracted nCoV due to recent travel to China or its administrative regions, and are exhibiting symptoms of the disease which are very common such as fever and cough.
He said that the detection of more PUIs are an indication that health authorities are doing their jobs.
“Mas makuyawan ko kung zero PUI ang Bohol makaingon ka’g ‘dunay g’yud siguroy gitagoan ning mga tawhana kay zero PUI.’ Mas malipay ko kung 10 PUIs kay atong na quarantine, galihok g’yud,” he said.
Lopez had earlier claimed that local health authorities did everything “right” in their capacity to handle persons suspected or monitored for nCoV 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.
However, some have questioned why the TWG and local health authorities never reported the confinement of the 60-year-old Wuhan woman who was recently confirmed to have been infected with nCoV.
It was only learned that the woman was in Bohol and was even admitted at a hospital in the province when the Department of Health reported that they had found out that she was infected with nCoV on February 5. On the same day, the DOH confirmed that she was confined at a hospital in Tagbilaran City starting January 22.
Local health authorities only admitted that she was isolated for nine days at a local hospital after the DOH’s revelation, but never reported this during the time of isolation even as they were informing the public about two other cases which involved a two-year-old boy and a 36-year-old man, both from China within the same period.
As early as January 23 and onwards local health authorities have been reporting about the boy and the 36-year-old man who exhibited flu-like symptoms but never about the woman from Wuhan who was all the while in isolation in Bohol from January 22 to 31.
Both the boy and man who were from Guangdong were immediately labeled by a health official as “unlikely” to have nCoV but were the highlights of the province’s coronavirus watch at the time, but the public only knew about the woman from Wuhan, the disease’s epicenter, on February 5 through the DOH.
The woman was discharged from the hospital on December 31 after two swab test results from the RITM and Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia both showed that she was negative for coronavirus.
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 used to test older samples taken from the patient which then yielded a positive result on February 3.
The RITM was previously only capable of detecting coronavirus but not determine the exact strain which prompted the DOH to submit samples to its Australian counterpart which can detect the nCoV.
It was only recently that the RITM acquired a device that can do the same and this was used to test new and old samples collected amid the nCoV scare.
While the woman was confirmed to have contracted nCoV, the boy and the man were found negative for the disease.
Meanwhile, contact-tracing for those who have been in contact with the Chinese woman has been intensified.
Local health authorities are now specifically focusing on identifying those who were onboard the same vessel as she was when she traveled from Cebu City to Tagbilaran City on January 20.
The TWG has been working with the media to identify and locate those onboard the Ocean Jet vessel which departed from Cebu at 5:40 p.m. on the said date by spreading information through various platforms.
As of Friday morning, the post by the Facebook page of station dyRD which called for passengers of the trip to coordinate with health authorities has reached almost half a million people on the social media site.