Health officials in the Philippines and Singapore are closely monitoring airports and other points of entry for a viral pneumonia outbreak that reportedly originated in mainland China to keep it from spreading.
On January 5, Sunday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to be on alert after 44 cases of the illness had been confirmed in China. Hospitals in Hong Kong are also following a stricter protocol and have raised their alert level to “serious” on Saturday.
“I urge the public, especially those with history of travel [to] China, to seek immediate medical [attention] if [they] are experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Inquirer reports Duque as saying. Furthermore, Duque advised everyone to “practice proper hand hygiene and observe cough etiquette to prevent transmission of respiratory infections.”
Symptoms of the mystery illness include fever and shortness of breath.
The first case of the mystery illness was reported in Wuhan on December 24, 2019. Of the now 44 cases in China, 11 have been classified as serious while five have been discharged.
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In Hong Kong, a woman was admitted in a hospital for respiratory infections after she spent the holidays in Wuhan.
In February 2003, a global outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus claimed the lives of hundreds of people and infected more than 8,000 around the world. As SARS, too, originated in Asia, there have been speculations and fears that the new mystery illness may be a resurgence of the said virus. The Wuhan municipal health commission, however, had ruled out SARS, reports The Guardian.