DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Mar) – Davao City remains free from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) as laboratory results conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on the test swab taken from a patient confined at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) tested negative for the disease, confirmed Dr. Leopoldo Vega, SPMC chief of hospital.
“Result is negative for PUI (person under investigation),” Vega said in a text message Tuesday morning.
He said the patient has not yet been discharged as of 8:30 a.m.
Dr. Annabelle Yumang, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region, said on Monday that the test swab was brought to the RITM on Saturday for testing.
She said the patient would be discharged from confinement immediately if the test turns out negative but DOH-XI would continue to monitor the patient.
“The PUIs are being admitted and stringent precautions are undertaken. There is no time for complacency, measures have been undertaken as we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” Yumang added.
According to Yumang, a patient is considered PUI when he manifested symptoms of the new coronavirus such as cough, fever, and difficulty of breathing; traveled to restricted countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases; or had direct contact with patients positive for COVID-19.
She said DOH-XI previously recorded a total of 24 PUIs who had been cleared.
“We should be very clear that there is a risk that people might be incubating the virus, so we isolate and monitor them to protect the rest of the public,” she said.
The Philippine government restricted travel to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and South Korea, and imposed a selective travel ban to travelers from North Gyeongsang Province, including city of Daegu, the center of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea.
Yumang did not disclose the nationality of the patient and his travel history. The patient arrived in the city last March 2.
She added the country where the patient came from was not among the restricted countries.
Vega added the SPMC is capable of handling PUIs, noting that the state-owned tertiary hospital is equipped with “depressurize” containment facility that can hold a maximum of 10 patients, materials, and trained personnel to take care of the patients.
On Saturday, the DOH raised an alert system to Code Red after it confirmed another two cases of COVID-19, one of them with no known travel history abroad.
Yumang said the alert level was raised as a “pre-emptive call to ensure that national and local governments, public and private health care providers can prepare for the possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.”
She urged the public to avoid crowded places, and continue to practice “hygiene by frequently washing their hands with soap and water very frequently, practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and proper disposal of used tissue.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)