On Thursday, January 30, health officials announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The 38-year-old woman recently traveled from Wuhan (Hubei province, China), where the virus originated.
The commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration announced on Tuesday, January 28, that it will temporarily suspend issuing tourist visas on arrival for Chinese nationals. According to the commissioner, the measure was introduced to reduce travel and potentially prevent the spread of the ongoing coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak into the country. It is unclear how long the new measure will remain in place. As of Tuesday, direct flights from Wuhan to the Philippines have been suspended by the Civil Aeronautics Board.
The World Health Organization's Emergency Committee is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday to discuss whether 2019-nCoV constitutes a global emergency.
Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan. Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
As of January 30, cases of the virus have been confirmed in Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Vietnam. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Vietnam, and Japan. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals traveling to the Philippines are advised to confirm visa requirements, keep abreast of the situation, and to contact their nearest embassy for further details.
Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands and wear a face mask
- Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease.