Cebu Pacific calls on HK flight passengers to get checked for flu-like symptoms

MANILA, Philippines – Budget airline Cebu Pacific on Thursday, January 23, urged passengers of a January 22 flight from Hong Kong to Manila to "seek medical attention" if they experience flu-like symptoms.

The statement comes after reports said family members of Hong Kong's first suspected case of the novel coronavirus (nCov) recently arrived in Manila via a Cebu Pacific flight.

"As precautionary measure, we advise passengers who were aboard Flight 5J 111 last 22 January 2020 to immediately seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever," Cebu Pacific said in a statement sent to media past midnight Thursday.

The South China Morning Post reported that 4 family members of a 39-year-old man found to be "preliminarily positive" of the new virus took Cebu Pacific flight 5J 111 from Hong Kong to Manila on Wednesday, January 22. 

"We have been alerted to reports from media in Hong Kong regarding 4 passengers aboard Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 111 (Hong Kong-Manila) which arrived Wednesday afternoon (January 22, 2020) who may have been exposed to a person infected with the coronavirus," Cebu Pacific said. 

According to the airline, all passengers and crew aboard the flight were screened by the Philippines' Bureau of Quarantine upon their arrival "and none of them were held for further observation."

"Nonetheless, we are trying to coordinate with Hong Kong authorities to verify information in media reports," Cebu Pacific said.

"We have also disinfected the aircraft following our standard practice for all inbound international flights," the airline said, adding that they are closely monitoring the spread of the nCov and that they have precautionary measures in place for their flights.

The man and 4 of his family members had taken the high-speed railway from Wuhan to Shenzhen on Tuesday, January 21, before transferring to another train that brought them to Hong Kong.

He was put in isolation in hospital after tests, but on Wednesday, when his relatives showed no symptoms after a night at a city hotel, they were allowed to leave for the Philippines.

The final test result of the man would only be known on Thursday.

The 2019 novel coronavirus or nCov started in Wuhan, China, and has infected over 400 people. The death toll from the virus rose to 17 on Wednesday.

Aside from China and Hong Kong, the virus has also been detected in the United States, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Macau.

The Philippines' Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed it is investigating a suspected case of "non-specific pancoronavirus" found in a 5-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu City. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com