HEALTH AUTHORITIES have examined 11 patients for potential coronavirus infection amid an outbreak of a new strain that has killed dozens in China.

Seven specimens from the 11 patients who are all foreigners were under investigation at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Health department said on Monday.

There were no confirmed cases yet of the new strain in the Philippines, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said at a briefing.

He said 11 people were under investigation out of 39 reports of suspected infections from regional health offices.

Two of the patients under investigation were in Metro Manila, one is in Palawan province, another in Leyte, one in Camiguin, three in Cebu City and three more in Aklan, the agency said.

“For now there are 11 patients under investigation, all of whom have a travel history from Wuhan, China, and have different onsets of illness,” Mr. Duque said.

He added that four of them had been cleared of having the 2019 strain, including a five-year-old Chinese boy who visited Cebu City and was found to have a nonspecific coronavirus.

“Seven of the specimens are undergoing testing by the RITM,” Mr. Duque said.

If the seven test positive for the nonspecific coronavirus, the specimens will be sent to Australia for identification. Testing could take as long as 48 hours.

Health Epidemiology Bureau Director Ferchito L. Avelino told GMA News on Monday three of the 11 patients had been discharged.

A person infected with coronavirus exhibits flu-like symptoms similar to the common cold, and to severe illnesses that can lead to serious health complications or death. The 2019 strain was discovered last month.

The global fatality rate is 2.7%, with a very high risk level in China and in the Asian region, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 2,700 cases of the new strain have been recorded and 80 deaths.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs department said no Filipino overseas had been affected by the new coronavirus strain, even as it asked workers to be careful.

The agency held an emergency meeting with Health authorities yesterday to discuss the appropriate response, including evacuation and repatriation protocols.

“There remains to be no report of any Filipino abroad affected by the said virus,” it said in a separate statement.

The two agencies agreed to issue health advisories for Filipinos workers in affected countries. A hotline will be set up in every foreign service post in China.

Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje said Filipinos overseas should avoid crowded places, use masks and gloves and maintain proper hygiene. — Gillian M. Cortez and Charmaine A. Tadalan