Manila: Philippine Red Cross chair Richard Gordon allayed local fears over a still undetermined illness sweeping Central China’s Wuhan, saying that experts have even to conclude if the disease is transmissible among humans.
A “mystery” disease had been reported to have afflicted a number of people in Wuhan prompting authorities there to automatically place the affected individuals under quarantine to prevent the sickness from spreading even though doctors have yet to conclude on the true nature of the illness.
Reports reaching the Philippines said the main symptoms of the disease is fever and difficulty in breathing. So far, 59 patients have been considered seriously ill.
But Gordon, who is also Senator, said there is no cause for “undue panic.”
“The cause of the ‘mystery’ disease has not been determined and thus far, there has been no reported human-to-human transmission,” Gordon said in a statement on Monday, adding that there were no deaths accounted from the illness.
On Sunday, Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III issued instructions to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to be on alert closely watch all seaports and airports in response to the reports of the mysterious disease.
“According to reports, the said disease is similar to a ‘viral pneumonia of unknown origin,’” Duque, the country’s foremost physician, said.
He added that necessary steps will be enforced to prevent the entry into the country of the mystery illness.
“I urge the public, especially those with history of travel from China, to seek immediate medical consult if experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Duque said.
While saying there is no cause for undue fear, Gordon, pointed that given the number of Chinese workers employed in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) sector, “it is prudent for the Philippines to ask these travellers to declare if they have travelled to Wuhan.”
He said that these visitors or POGO workers indeed visited or came from Wuhan, they should be requested to be subjected to screening and a temperature check with minimum inconvenience as they enter the country.
An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 Chinese mainlanders are working in the POGO sector.
According to reports, authorities in Wuhan have ruled out the possibility that those taken ill were afflicted with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that had affected some 5,237 people from mainland China between 2002 and 2004. Of those reported to have SARS, 329 had died.