The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) is reported a suspected  Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) death that has prompted mobilization of a MERS Task Force to create heightened awareness and vigilance among the public and prevent the spread of the communicable disease.

 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) /CDC
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) /CDC

On Tuesday, DOH received a report of a Saudi national who developed cough, high fever and occasional chills. These symptoms started on September 26, 2015.The patient was subsequently admitted in a private hospital on September 28, 2015. Unfortunately, the patient’s condition deteriorated and he was pronounced dead on September 29, 2015. Aside from signs and symptoms, including x-ray results suggestive of MERS, the patient also showed indication of Myocardial Infarction.

At the moment, Task Force MERS-CoV has started contact tracing of people who were possibly exposed to the said foreigner during the history of travel here in the country. 55 hospital staff, 16 hotel staff, and 3 workers from the funeral parlor were in contact with the patient. All contacts were asymptomatic as of last night, except for 12 health workers who are currently admitted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the San Lazaro Hospital.

As of today, all symptomatic health workers yielded negative for MERS-CoV infection. They will be monitored daily by the DOH for the next 14 days from the time of exposure until they are cleared of a possible MERSCoV infection. We are doing this to ensure that no one gets infected.

Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto Garin said, “It is important is to report to the nearest hospital if you experience flu-like symptoms and a history of travel to the Arabian Peninsula or possible exposure to a MERS-CoV infected patient.

The following countries have reported MERS cases, travel and non-travel related: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Yemen, Algeria, Austria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (UK), and United States of America (USA).

Globally, the World Health Organization has been notified of 1,593 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 568 related deaths.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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