By Rizal Obanil
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed yesterday that there have been cases of human-to-human transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) in Wuhan, China.
“There seems to be circumstantial evidence of a possible human –to-human transmission in one hospital in China. I think in Wuhan City itself where I think 14 people with– I don’t recall exactly– but these are health care personnel who purportedly got infected. So which means there was exposure to the patients manifesting the novel Coronavirus illness. But hopefully, they’re also saying at the same time that parang low transmission rate,” Duque said in a press conference at “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” on Wednesday.
“It’s not as aggressive as the one with SARCOV and the MERSCOV,” Duque explained why health authorities in China said that it had a low transmission rate.
Duque though admitted that when it comes to nCoV there are blindspots which experts still have to research about.
As an example, the Health Secretary said that we know that nCoV was transmitted from infected animals, but we do not know exactly which animal it was.
Thankfully, the DOH and the World Health Organization as well as the other health agencies concerned will soon come up with a guideline on the handling of such cases.
In the meantime, health officials still have to adhere to guidelines that are akin to those that were applied to MERSCoV.
“The guidelines for example, interim guidelines for novel Coronavirus which is aligned with as adopted for the MERSCoV. Hindi na yung SARS kasi SARS matagal na yan. So ang pinaka-recent is MERSCOV. So number one, the case definition is very important. Dito you have to watch out for a person with severe acute respiratory illness with a history of coughs and cold requiring hospital admission with no etiology that is causing the clinical manifestation,” Duque said.
“In other words, hindi mo alam. That’s number one. And any of the following: number 1. Travel, history of travel or a person who lived in Wuhan City in China. And the third one (second), a person who might have interacted with a health care worker where care for severe acute respiratory illness was given. Regardless of history of travel and residence. And then any direct contact with a known confirmed case of novel Coronavirus and also exposure. Ito yung mga exposure na no? Exposure to a health facility that has reported a hospital-associated novel Coronavirus. Exposure such as work or having visited a live animal market in Wuhan City,” he added.
“And then lastly would be probably you know if there was exposure to an animal population where the source of the Coronavirus has been identified. Which particular animal population that has eventually through transmission spread to the human population,” he said.
He said that the guidelines he enumerated are for the identification of possible nCoV cases.
“Pagdating dun sa guidelines for infection control MERCOV, laboratory diagnosis, sa surveillance and case management. These are the four major items for which the DOH and the other concerned agencies like RITM are reviewing right now and in no time will issue the most recent guidelines,” the DOH Secretary said.
Duque confirmed that both the 5-year-old child and the mother of the child who came from Wuhan, China are now in isolation.
“Tama po kayo. Naka-isolate din po yung nanay. Ganon din kinunan ng blood sample and throat swab. Pinadala na rin po sa RITM,” he said.