Cebu Pacific Hong Kong flight told to see doctor

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CEBU PACIFIC on Thursday urged passengers of a Hong Kong-Manila flight on Wednesday to seek medical help if they experience flu-like symptoms, amid a coronavirus outbreak in China.

In an advisory, the carrier said it had been alerted to media reports in Hong Kong that four of its passengers on the flights might have been exposed to a person infected with coronavirus.

“All passengers and the crew aboard the flight were screened by the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival in Manila, and none of them were held for further observation,” it said.

“Nonetheless, we are trying to coordinate with Hong Kong authorities to verify information in media reports,” it added.

The airline said that as a precautionary measure, passengers aboard flight 5J 111 should seek medical help if they exhibit flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever.

“We have also disinfected the aircraft following our standard practice for all inbound international flights,” it said.

Cebu Pacific said passengers should postpone air travel if they feel unwell, and stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever subsides.

In a separate advisory, Philippine Airlines said it was also “closely monitoring” reports on the novel coronavirus even if it does not operate flights to and from Wuhan, the city where the virus was said to have originated.

The airline said it was coordinating with the Health department, Bureau of Quarantine and other health authorities “in taking sensible precautionary measures for the safety and protection of our passengers.”

This includes unobtrusive screening at specific airports.

PAL passengers were advised to follow preventive measures such as washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand rub.

Travelers should cancel their trips if they are experiencing symptoms such as respiratory problems, cough and colds, flu, high body temperature and shortness of breath, the airline said.

Airports worldwide have tightened security protocols after reports that hundreds in China have been infected with the deadly virus.

Senators on Wednesday asked the Health department and other agencies to draft an emergency plan after a Chinese boy in Cebu City tested positive for coronavirus, days after Japan and Thailand confirmed their first case of infection from a new strain that originated in Wuhan, China.

The virus, in the same family as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), has killed at least 17 patients and sickened hundreds in China.

The boy tested positive for coronavirus but was negative for SARS and MERS, the Health department said on Tuesday.

Also yesterday, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) had tracked down the family of the infected Chinese boy. Immigration and National Bureau of Investigation agents can find the people they have interacted with in the Philippines, he added.

Meanwhile the Health department said it had yet to determine the strain of coronavirus the boy was infected with.

“”The Department of Health wishes to clarify that it has yet to receive the confirmatory results for the five year-old boy under investigation for 2019-nCoV,” it said in a statement.

“As such, the child will remain as a person under investigation,” it added. Samples from the patient were sent to Australia for further testing.

World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Country Representative Rabinda Abeyasinghe earlier said they were working with authorities in China, where majority of the cases occurred, to monitor the new virus strain.

Senator Nancy S. Binay on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution 293, seeking to inquire into the measures and funding requirements needed in case if an outbreak.

While coronavirus cases are normally transmitted from animals to humans, the new strain was said to have been transmitted between humans.

Health authorities have advised the public to observe proper hygiene and cough etiquette, including covering the mouth when one coughs or sneezes. — with C.A. Tadalan