|BREAKING NEWS - 22 April
Gov't confirms first
from SARS in Philippines
Posted: 0:05 AM (Manila Time) | Apr. 22, 2003
By Armand Nocum
Inquirer News Service
THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) announced Monday the Philippines' "second
probable SARS case" -- a 46-year-old Filipino woman who died at the San
Lazaro Hospital in Manila on April 14 after returning from Toronto via Tokyo
earlier this month.
Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit told reporters that the ailment of the woman, a
nursing attendant, was "reclassified" as probable Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) after "contact tracing" by local and
Canadian health officials found that she could have been infected by her
roommate's mother, who was in turn infected by a Filipino doctor who died of
SARS in Toronto on April 18.
(The Filipino doctor mentioned in this Inquirer report is alive, the head of
the Philippine National Epidemiology Center told INQ7.net.)
The DOH has ordered quarantine for 200 "casual contacts" and 54
"close contacts" of the woman, with the initials AC. However, she will
not be considered a confirmed SARS case until lab testing in Japan shows her
blood sample positive for the carrier coronavirus, Dayrit said.
He also said AC was not yet in the contagious stage prior to her confinement at
the San Lazaro Hospital. Contagion was in effect only when she came down with
fever on April 12 and died of pneumonia two days later.
Nevertheless, Dayrit said all those who had contact with her would be closely
observed until April 26. "Local transmission" will be deemed to have
set in if any of them comes down with fever, cough or respiratory attacks.
Asked whether the second probable SARS case and the big number of people
quarantined would make a SARS outbreak here possible, Dr. Jean Marc Olive, the
World Health Organization's representative to the Philippines, said: "There
is a possibility. But for the time being, no one of those [who got in close
contact with AC] has developed fever. Local transmission will be established
once we have [SARS] cases among those who got into contact with [her]."
The Philippines' first announced probable SARS case is a 64-year-old foreigner
who has since recovered and is not known to have infected anyone, officials
Among AC's 54 close contacts were her father, a driver, an 11-year-old boy and a
baby she had cuddled.
All four developed fever last week and were taken to the Research Institute of
Tropical Medicine in Manila's Alabang suburb.
Dayrit said the driver, the boy and the baby no longer had fever as of Monday
But the father remains with fever, Dayrit said, adding: "His case is
complicated because he has cancer."
Dr. Antonio Amparo, chief of the Bureau of Quarantine detail at the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport, said the DOH National Epidemiology Center was tracking
the passengers of the Japan Airlines flight from Narita that AC took on April 4.
"We are asking the airline to give us a copy of the seating arrangement of
the flight," Amparo told reporters at a news conference.
He said contact tracing started with the acquisition of the flight manifest.
At a briefing that preceded the news conference, an official of the airline
said: "We are ready to give them the documents, but they have to give us
their request in black and white."
Dayrit said that upon her arrival in her native province of Pangasinan, AC
immediately went around Luzon in search of a doctor to treat her cancer-stricken
The search reportedly took her from Pangasinan to the provinces of Tarlac and
Pampanga, the northern city of Baguio, and Metro Manila, and brought her in
casual contact with as many as 2,000 persons. All have been told to go on
Pangasinan provincial health officials said they had isolated at least three
households that AC visited. Among those with whom she had contact were children
with ages ranging from 3 to 16.
Dayrit said the woman could have been infected by the mother of her roommate in
Toronto, with the initials DC.
"It turned out that the mother of DC was already ill of SARS when [AC] bade
her goodbye on April 1. But the mother did not know she had SARS," Dayrit
He said the mother was taken to a hospital in Canada on April 4 and was now
considered a SARS patient. DC still has no symptoms of SARS, but her father has
Dayrit said the mother was most probably infected by a Filipino doctor who
contracted the disease from another SARS patient. The patient, who has since
also died, was a member of the Bukas-Loob sa Diyos, a Philippine Catholic
Dayrit said AC and the woman who infected her had "no connection" with
the Bukas-Loob sa Dios.
Members of DC's family reportedly visited the Philippines in the first week of
March, and returned to Canada via Hong Kong.
Canada has reported 14 SARS deaths and about 300 suspect and probable SARS
cases. Toronto, its largest city, is the epicenter of the largest SARS outbreak
outside of Asia.
The DOH has added Canada, Japan and the United States to its alert list.
Travelers from these countries will undergo health checks at Manila's Ninoy
Aquino International Airport and other ports of entry and aircraft will be
In Hong Kong, two more overseas Filipino workers -- a nurse and a domestic
helper -- were taken to hospital for SARS.
The two are "out of critical condition" although they are still under
observation in the hospital, Dayrit said.
Labor undersecretary Manuel Imson said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in
Hong Kong was still verifying how the OFWs were infected.
The two new cases brought to 27 the total number of Filipinos in Singapore and
Hong Kong who had been afflicted with the mysterious ailment. One of these
Filipinos died of SARS in Hong Kong last month.
Source : www.inq7.net