The overseas Filipino worker from Saudi Arabia who was placed on person under investigation (PUI) status after showing symptoms of MERS-CoV has tested negative for the disease, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
In a press conference, Health Secretary Janet Garin said with this development, the Philippines remains free of MERS-CoV, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.
“We have MERS-CoV suspects but as of today, wala pang nag-positibo. All MERS-CoV suspects had negative test results,” she said.
Although no Filipino has tested positive for MERS-CoV at this time, Garin said the DOH remains vigilant about monitoring cases of individuals suspected of having the virus.
“Maski negatibo [ang resulta ng tests], patuloy pa rin kami sa paghahanap at pagmo-monitor,” she said.
Garin said the DOH sometimes keeps a patient who has tested negative for MERS-CoV under observation because he or she has shown symptoms of other ailments.
DOH Western Visayas Regional Epidemiologist Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe said the OFW, who was in his 50s, arrived in Roxas City, Capiz, on Dec. 29, and was brought to an Iloilo hospital last Jan. 3 after developing a cough.
Alonsabe said there is nothing unusual about placing the OFW on PUI status since it was standard operating procedure for individuals suspected of having MERS-CoV.
“It’s just part of the routine, since he’s an OFW who came from the Middle East where the virus originated,” he said in a phone interview.
Despite testing negative for the virus, Alonsabe said the OFW is still in the hospital as the DOH is still determining the cause of his cough.
MERS was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and the majority of cases have been in the Middle East. Scientists are not sure of the origin of the virus, but several studies have linked it to camels.
The largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia occurred last year in South Korea, where more than 180 have been infected and 33 have died. —KBK, GMA News