SIQUIJOR, Jan. 23 (PIA) -- The Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) here called on residents to be vigilant amidst news of the spread of the Coronavirus.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Josephine Bucol said there has been no record of suspected cases of the illness here but monitoring and surveillance are now up in the health office for patients with symptoms.
Bucol urged resort owners and operators to report to the nearest rural health units or the provincial hospital any suspected case for prompt assistance.
She said doctors and health workers are advised to closely monitor and follow up patients with the symptoms as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also encouraged them to be vigilant and take extra precautionary measures when in contact with patients manifesting acute respiratory infection, especially those with travel history to China.
Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever, and cough.
The human coronaviruses is commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching mouth, nose, eyes without washing hands, and rarely, fecal contamination.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect one against human coronaviruses infection but transmission is reduced through washing of hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
In a press release, the Department of Health (DOH) advised the public to practice frequent handwashing, avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, practice proper cough etiquette - maintain distance and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow - avoid close contact with people showing cold or flu-like symptoms, and ensure that food is well-cooked.
"I urge travelers with symptoms of respiratory illness, either during or after travel, to seek medical attention immediately. I also call on our health facilities to enhance standard infection prevention and control practices, especially in our emergency departments. We must always be ready," said Duque.
Coronaviruses, according to DOH, are a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious infections such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.
Common signs of coronavirus infection include 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.
DOH also noted that on Dec. 31, 2019, a clustering of pneumonia cases of unknown etiology was reported in Wuhan, China.
The outbreak was later determined to be caused by a 2019-nCoV, a new coronavirus strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
To date, 222 2019-nCoV cases were reported in China, majority coming from Wuhan, with cases also coming from cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen.
Thailand, Japan, and South Korea also reported confirmed cases.
Initially, the said disease was thought to be transmitted through animal contact but recent reports show human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV.
The Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ), DOH report said, is working with airlines and airport authorities to strengthen border surveillance, while the Epidemiology Bureau is heightening its community surveillance.
DOH is also enhancing its coronavirus laboratory testing capacity, hospital preparedness, rapid response, and its risk communication and information dissemination.
Personal Protective Equipment are available at the BoQ, Centers for Health Development, and DOH hospitals.
DOH is also closely monitoring individuals who manifested signs of respiratory infection and had a history of travel to China and is coordinating with World Health Organization and China Center for Disease Control for updates.
Meanwhile, the IPHO here is disseminating Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Coronavirus and asked the provincial government, particularly the local tourism office, to inform resort owners on this matter.
Bucol also encourage posting of the information at Larena and Siquijor ports. (rac/PIA7-Siquijor with DOH report)