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FAQs on the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses causing a range of illnesses, from the common cold to more serious infections such as those caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus can also cause a variety of diseases in farm animals and domesticated pets.
The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019-nCoV has caused severe pneumonia in several cases in China and has been exported to a range of countries and cities.
Last January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization recommended that the interim name of the disease causing the current outbreak should be changed to “2019 novel coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease” or 2019-nCoV ARD.
Last 31 December 2019, a clustering of pneumonia cases of unknown etiology was reported in Wuhan, China. The outbreak was later determined to be caused by a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a new coronavirus strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Common signs of coronavirus infection include flu-like and respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
On January 24, 2020, the World Health Organization has confirmed human-to-human transmission largely in Wuhan City, China. However, there is not enough information yet to draw a definitive conclusion about the intensity of human-to-human transmission, full clinical features, and the original source of the outbreak.
Health experts are accelerating research to study the origins of the virus and how it is spreading. The virus has been differentiated from SARS and MERS, but its contagiousness and virulence is still being studied.
There is no specific treatment for the 2019-nCoV ARD. However, many of the symptoms can be treated based on the patient’s clinical conditions. Supportive care for infected persons can also be highly effective.
DOH advises the public to:
a. Practice frequent and proper handwashing - wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
b. Practice proper cough etiquette.
i. Cover mouth and nose using handkerchief/tissue (sleeves or crook of the elbow may also be used to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing).
ii. Move away from people when coughing.)
iii. Do not spit.
iv. Throw away used tissues properly.
v. Always wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
vi. Use alcohol/sanitizer.
c. Maintain distance at least one meter away from individual/s manifesting with flu-like symptoms.
d. Avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
e. Ensure that food is well-cooked.
f. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The designated infection control committee (ICC) of the hospital shall be responsible for the preliminary investigation of cases. Once the case is classified as a person under investigation (PUI), he/she should be quarantined. The ICC should then notify the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESU), who shall then report to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau.
Hospitals with PUIs will also send the collected specimens (oropharyngeal and nasal swabs) to Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) for screening.
The DOH also encourages health workers to be vigilant and take extra precautionary measures when in contact with patients with acute respiratory infection, especially those with travel history to China.
Finally, all health facilities must enhance their standard infection prevention and control practices, especially in their emergency departments.
The following should be immediately investigated and tested for 2019-nCoV ARD:
1) A person with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), fever and cough, and with at least one of the following:
a) A history of travel to or lived in Wuhan in the 10-14 days prior to symptom onset; and
b) A health worker who has been working in an environment where patients with severe acute respiratory infections are being cared for, without regard to place of residence or history of travel.)
2). A person with acute respiratory infection (ARI) and fulfilling at least one of the following criteria within 14 days prior to onset of illness:
a) Close contact with a confirmed or probable case;
b) visit/work in a live animal market in Wuhan; and
c) Work/attend a health facility where patients with HAI-associated 2019-nCoV are reported.
Patients, particularly travelers from China, who show symptoms of fever and cough should seek medical attention in a hospital immediately.
In this case, there is no need to be tested for 2019-nCoV ARD. Please consult at your nearest health facility as deemed necessary.
Yes. As of February 2, 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the temporary ban of entry for any person (except Filipinos and those holding PR resident visas issued by the PH) directly coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions, i.e. Hongkong, Macau.
Outgoing travelers are also advised to avoid traveling in places with known novel coronavirus cases. Travelers are advised to follow advisories and public health plans of the country they are going to visit or stay in; know the health facility/ies nearest to their location; and keep themselves updated with the latest information about the disease
Yes, they are. DOH will take care of them if they return home. Upon arrival, they will be taken care of in a health facility for monitoring and further medical management upon arrival for 14 days. If you have fever and/or cough upon arrival, immediately inform the quarantine medical officer/s on duty at the airport or seaport.
Public Health Response and Current Situation
The public can get information about the 2019-nCoV from the DOH’s official press releases, website, and official social media platforms. Please be wary of fake news and reports circulating online, and always verify the sources of your information.
DOH is closely monitoring individuals who manifested signs of respiratory infection and had a history of travel to China, and is coordinating with WHO and China Center for Disease Control for updates.
DOH is also enhancing its coronavirus laboratory testing capacity, hospital preparedness, rapid response, and its risk communication and information dissemination. Personal Protective Equipment are made available at the Bureau of Quarantine, Centers for Health Development, and DOH Hospitals.
The Bureau of Quarantine, meanwhile, is working with airlines and airport authorities to strengthen border surveillance, while the Epidemiology Bureau is heightening its community surveillance.