5 million left Wuhan before lockdown, 1,000 new coronavirus cases expected in city
About 5 million residents left Wuhan before the lockdown because of the deadly coronavirus epidemic and the Spring Festival holiday, mayor Zhou Xianwang revealed on Sunday, as health officials warned the virus’ ability to spread was getting stronger.
There were about 9 million people remaining in the city after the lockdown, Zhou told a press conference.
Of the 2,700 people currently under observation in the city, about 1,000 were likely to be confirmed cases. As of Sunday, Wuhan had 533 confirmed cases.
The central government imposed a lockdown on Wuhan and several cities on Thursday hoping to stop the new virus from spreading to other parts of the country. However, many had already left the city for the holiday, while others rushed out after the lockdown was announced on Wednesday night.
China, meanwhile, said Premier Li Keqiang would head the high-level group to fight the coronavirus epidemic that has killed 80 people and infected more than 2,500 others, while health officials said the virus’s ability to spread is getting stronger.
Beijing city reported five more confirmed cases, including a nine-month-old infant. It is the first confirmed infant case. On Saturday, a two-year-old girl in Guangxi was confirmed to be infected.
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Ph Did not Ban China flights right after the outbreak
President Rodrigo Duterte maintained on Wednesday that banning travel between the country and China will not be easy, despite the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak that originated in the East Asian nation.
"Mahirap 'yang ano, sabihin mong [It is hard to say that] you suspend everything because they are not also suspending theirs and they continue to respect the freedom flights that we enjoy," Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview.
However, he said the government is ready to repatriate Filipinos in Wuhan — the Chinese city which sits at the center of the outbreak — should they seek to come home to the Philippines.
"We are always conscious of our citizens [and] their health and if they are going home, we are ready to ferry them back to the Philippines but all precautions must be in place," he added.
The Foreign Affairs Department earlier said two charter planes are on standby to fetch Filipinos in Wuhan once they get the go signal from Chinese officials.
Duterte added that he will leave the precautionary measures to the proper authorities.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque was also reluctant to recommend banning Chinese nationals from entering the country.
Duque said they are looking at the ban as an option but he raised that China might question why the Philippines is not imposing the same restriction on other countries.
"If we do this, then the concerned country — China in this case — might question why we're not doing the same for other countries that have reported confirmed cases of novel coronavirus," said Duque during a question hour at the House of Representatives.
The secretary maintained that the Department of Health has intensified surveillance on travelers who may have symptoms of the virus. He said they are now strictly monitoring not just visitors from Wuhan but from the entire Hubei province, where the city is located.
"As I have said, we have scaled up, we have leveled up border surveillance. Our quarantine officers are well equipped," he added.
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WHERE ARE THEY: Confirmed and suspected cases of novel coronavirus
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque confirmed Thursday the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.
The patient was identified as a 38-year-old Chinese tested positive for the novel coronavirus based on the laboratory results from the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia
The patient arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan, China via Hong Kong last January 21, 2020.
As of January 30, 2020, DOH has recorded 29 Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) across the country.
They were classified as PUIs after manifesting symptoms of respiratory infection and travel history from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
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DOH says it's ready in case new coronavirus reaches PH
The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public that systems are in place in case the new coronavirus that has spread in China reaches the Philippines.
DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo told reporters on Thursday, January 23, that the health department is “fully prepared” and that protocols are in place if ever cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV are reported in the country.
“It’s just a matter of activating the infrastructure we have ready,” Domingo said. (READ: ‘Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)
The health department is currently probing the case of a 5-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu City who tested positive for what the DOH called “non-specific pancoronavirus.” This means that he tested negative for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but may have been infected by any of the 4 mild coronaviruses known to infect humans or the new coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019.
The DOH is waiting for test results from an Australian laboratory to determine whether the boy indeed has 2019-nCoV. If he tests negative, he may be discharged from the hospital in Cebu, where he has been under observation since January 12.
“The World Health Organization’s (WHO) position right now is that the virus is really going to spread. In fact, it has already gone to several countries; the international spread is no longer theoretical. ” Domingo said.
If a case is confirmed and if the WHO declares the new virus an international public health emergency, Domingo said the DOH will proceed with guidelines it followed during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks in 2003 and 2014, respectively, but “with modifications” attentive to the new virus.
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