THE Health Department announced Sunday that the 11 of the 56 people who had come into close contact with the 32-year-old nurse with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) all tested negative after a second round of tests at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.
One of the 11, however, was not discharged because X-rays showed the patient was “a probable case” and is being kept in isolation along with the nurse, who is pregnant.
Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said the remaining 55—most of them workers from Evangelista Medical Safety Hospital in Laguna where the nurse first sought treatment—would be kept in home quarantine until Feb. 24.
“We want to ensure that they are all safe,” said Garin as she urged residents in San Pedro, Laguna, not to panic. The virus is not airborne, but transmitted through respiratory droplets within a distance of one meter or less, so there is no reason for residents to fear its spread, she said. Garin said the Filipino nurse got the MERS-CoV from a patient in the Saudi Arabian hospital where she used to work. Garin said of the other passengers on Saudia Airlines Flight 860, health officials have contacted 115, 86 of whom have tested negative for the virus.
She said Sunday will be the last day for contact tracing of the remaining passengers since the incubation period of the virus is 14 days.
While MERS-CoV has a mortality of 30 percent, Garin said human-to-human transmission is not that easy. The symptoms of MERS-CoV are fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. Some may present with gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea and some with kidney failure.
The World health Organization said corona viruses are a large family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses in humans, ranging from the common cold to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). MERS-CoV is a strain of corona virus first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.