Singapore — The first fatality from the Wuhan coronavirus outside China was reported in the Philippines on Sunday (Feb 2).
According to the World Health Organization, the 44-year-old man, who was confirmed as the second person with the virus in the Philippines, was visiting from Wuhan. He died on Saturday (Feb 1).
The other person who has tested positive for the virus is a 38-year-old woman who had been the travelling companion of the man who died. She was the first positive case identified in the country last Thursday. She was admitted to hospital on Jan 25 and is in stable condition.
The man and the woman had been in the Philippines since Jan 21.
The Philippines’ Department of Health announced the death on Sunday morning. The man developed severe pneumonia after he was diagnosed with the virus.
Dr Rabi Abeyasinghe, the WHO representative in the Philippines, said: “This is the first reported case outside of China. However, we need to keep in mind that he came from Wuhan, China.”
According to Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III: “The patient was stable and showed signs of improvement. However, the conditions of the patient deteriorated within the last 24 hours resulting in his demise.”
He added: “We are currently working with the Chinese Embassy to ensure the dignified management of the remains according to national and international standards to contain the disease.”
It was announced at the media conference that the man’s remains would be cremated.
The man and the woman had travelled via Hong Kong from Wuhan and went to two major cities in the Philippines, Cebu and Dumaguete, before arriving in Manila.
The Department of Health is tracing individuals who had been on the same flight as the man and woman from Wuhan. These people will be monitored and placed under isolation.
Others, including hotel personnel, who may also have had close contact with the man and woman are being tracked down in order to be monitored. The authorities have said they do not need to be quarantined yet.
Also on Sunday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced an entry ban on all individuals who have travelled to China, Hong Kong and Macau within the last two weeks, saying this would take effect immediately.
“With the safety of the country and all persons within our territory as prime considerations, and upon further advise from the Department of Health (DOH) that the virus has affected all regions of China, the President has immediately approved… Temporarily banning the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, directly coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions,” said Mr Duterte’s Executive Secretary, Mr Salvador Medialdea.
Only Filipino citizens and those who hold permanent resident visas issued by the Philippine Government have been exempted from the ban.
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