THE Health department warned Filipino travelers to check themselves for flu-like conditions after reports of a mysterious respiratory disease that is affecting people in China.

“I urge the public, especially those with a history of travel from China, to seek immediate medical consult if they’re experiencing any flu-like symptoms,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said in a statement on Sunday.

He said he had ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to monitor seaports and airports and be on the lookout for incoming travellers who have signs of fever or respiratory infection.

The Health department said a “viral pneumonia of unknown origin” had caused an outbreak in China, affecting 44 people. Chinese authorities are investigating the source of the outbreak, in which 11 of the 44 cases were considered “severe,” according to BBC report on Friday.

Hong Kong and Singapore were also monitoring incoming travelers after reports of the mysterious illness.

Chinese authorities were investigating 27 cases of infection after rumors on social media suggested the outbreak could be linked to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to Reuters.

The World Health Organization said it was aware of the reports and was is in contact with the Chinese government about it.

“Investigations are still being carried out and authorities cannot yet confirm what pathogen is causing this illness,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. He added that there were several potential causes of viral pneumonia, many of which are more common than SARS. — Gillian M. Cortez