Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Philippines - Philippines issues alert on new SARS strain

The Philippines has been alerted to a new strain dubbed the “coronavirus,” which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says belongs to the large family of viruses that cause the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it was mere “coincidence” the new strain had the same name as impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“The DOH (Department of Health) is also watching it closely because it’s a SARS-like virus, which is called the coronavirus,” said Valte, who added in a Sunday radio interview that two cases had been detected abroad.

She said the temperature-sensing machines put up in the arrivals concourses of the country’s international airports to detect possible SARS carriers continued to do the job.

“So the team from the Bureau of Quarantine…are also on alert to any possible other illnesses that may be carried by citizens or tourists who come to the country,” said Valte.

Told the strain was believed to have originated in the Middle East, she said: “I am not quite sure about the origin, but certainly the DOH will be giving a warning if necessary. As in the past, when we have dealt with illnesses like that, the DOH has always been forthcoming with the information.”

In a statement Saturday, the WHO denied person-to-person transmission thus far of the coronavirus which has killed one person and left another in critical situation.

In a news update, the WHO said it continued to monitor the situation involving a Qatari man and a Saudi Arabian national.

“No additional confirmed cases have been reported and there is no evidence so far of person to person transmission of the novel coronavirus. It should be noted that this case definition was developed based on data from two confirmed cases and, as such, some degree of clinical judgement is required where individual cases are concerned,” it said.

The WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this new strain, “nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions are applied,” it added.

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