Child from Wuhan under investigation for nCoV tests negative

UNTV News   •   January 25, 2020   •   338

A five-year-old child who was being tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been cleared of having the illness.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Thursday (January 24) that samples from the child came back negative for the said virus. The test was performed at the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.

The DOH last Tuesday (January 21) disclosed that a five-year-old with a history of travel to Wuhan, China was placed under observation in Cebu City after showing pneumonia-like symptoms.

“This is indeed very welcome news to ease the Filipinos’ growing concern. I assure everyone that your Department of Health will not stop here and is on top of this emerging health event. We will continue to monitor the developing situation and ensure mechanisms to contain the threat of the 2019-nCoV,” assured Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Quarantine is working closely with airlines and airport authorities for stricter border surveillance.

DOH recommends all travelers with symptoms of fever and cough, and with history of travel to Wuhan, China to immediately proceed to any hospital for prompt medical attention and management. DOH assured that its health facilities are equipped and prepared to receive suspected cases of the 2019-nCoV. Health workers are advised to observe preventive measures and infection control protocols.

“Let us continue to be vigilant. Always practice hand hygiene, observe proper cough etiquette, avoid close contact with people manifesting flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with farm and wild animals, cook food properly, and adopt healthy lifestyles to mount immunity against infections,” the Health Chief concluded.

Overseas students form helpful volunteer group to offer assistance in Wuhan

UNTV News   •   February 20, 2020

CHINA (Reuters) – International students at a university in Wuhan City have formed a volunteer team to provide services for other students on campus since they are not allowed to go outside as part of the current epidemic control measures.

After the outbreak, a doctoral student, who goes by his Chinese name Daming and is from Benin, took the initiative to put together a group of students to help with deliveries for the 320 international students being housed at the Silk Road Institute under the China University of Geosciences.

His volunteer team is made up of students from 13 countries that include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Yemen.

On top of delivering essentials to each student, the volunteers also help to transport and organize supplies donated to the university.

“We published some information [appealing for donations]. Some villagers in my hometown of Jingmen City saw the information and contacted us. These Chinese cabbages, carrots and corn were all donated by the villagers,” said Xu Feng, deputy dean at the Silk Road Institute.

As the group continues to work hard, Daming has referred to the team as “Iron Men”, which he thinks reflects the braveness of the volunteers.

“Though we come from different countries, our hearts are connected. All the volunteers are resilient and we are not scared of the virus,” said Daming.

Even though his team of iron men is confident in their work, Daming’s parents were initially worried about his safety and asked if he wanted to leave.

“At the very beginning, my parents asked me whether I want to go home, as they felt very worried. I shot some videos for them and then they feel relieved and think it is okay for me to stay here,” said Daming.

All the volunteers have said they regard Wuhan as their second home and they want to help the city to get through the present difficulties through action.

“This is my responsibility and also the world’s responsibility. We all support Wuhan. Fight on,” said Yang Kang, a student from Afghanistan.

Coronavirus scare reduces NAIA passenger traffic —MIAA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reduced passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Wednesday.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said that from January 27 to February 17, the country’s main gateway only handled a total of 1,352,692 international passengers compared to 1,624,698 passengers in the same period in 2019.

Domestic passenger traffic at NAIA also went down to 1,406,876 from January 27 to February 17 compared with 1,456,705 in the same period last year.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there’s still time to recover and hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon,” Monreal told reporters at a Palace briefing.

The MIAA chief added that the aviation sector is now slowly recovering from its losses after the government fully lifted the travel restrictions on Taiwan, and allowed Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents to leave for Hong Kong and Macau.

“So ngayon po, slowly recovering dahil sa mga pagbabago at panukala dahil sa mga pag-uusap ng task force na ipinatutupad ng task force and hopefully our local tourism will recover soon,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier implemented an entry ban for passengers who traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

It later expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan but was eventually lifted on February 14.

On Tuesday, the government announced that Filipino workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau are exempted from the outbound travel ban “subject to certain procedural formalities.”

Meanwhile, Monreal expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will find a solution to the concerns raised by local airline companies on the safety protocols relating to the travel of its crew to Hong Kong and Macau.

Local carriers have earlier expressed concern on the reduced number of personnel if their crewmembers will constantly be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau.  

“Kung ganoon po ang proseso na mayroon pa ho silang quarantine yung mga crew, medyo mahihirapan po sila na magmount ng flights dito kahit po may temporary lifting ng mga pasahero na papunta ng Hong Kong at pabalik po,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

China warns of sustained virus impact on poultry, eggs supply amid rising death toll

UNTV News   •   February 18, 2020

China’s supply of poultry and egg products is likely to be hit in the second and third quarters as the coronavirus outbreak has had a severe impact on the industry, agriculture ministry official Yang Zhenhai told a State Council briefing on Tuesday (February 18).

The world’s second-largest poultry producer, China had been ramping up output to fill a meat shortage after the African swine fever epidemic, which began in 2018, decimated its pig herd.

Poultry prices have plunged this year and restrictions on moving livestock and extended holidays in many areas have paralyzed the supply chain. Farmers have been left with large inventories of birds and eggs even as demand plunged as restaurants and canteens stay shut.

Yang said that since the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 1,800 deaths, live poultry markets have been closed, transportation of baby poultry and live poultry has been curtailed and slaughterhouses have been shut down. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Thomas Suen)

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