11 Chinese tourists in Aklan under observation for exposure to coronavirus

AKLAN, Philippines – Eleven Chinese tourists – 7 adults and 4 children – tracked down in a resort on Boracay Island are under medical observation by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Aklan for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. 

Four of them were in close contact with an infected coronavirus patient in Hong Kong, Provincial Health Officer I Dr. Cornelio Cuachon Jr said on Tuesday, January 28.  

The 11 Chinese nationals from Hubei province were supposed to spend a one-month vacation in Boracay when Hong Kong authorities alerted the Philippine health officials to conduct intensive contact-tracing. Hubei has been on lockdown, limiting the movements of some 60 million people, since the new coronavirus broke out in its capital city of Wuhan last December.  

The tourists traveled from Hong Kong to Kalibo via Manila on January 22. Seven other Chinese people were traced by health authorities in close contacts with the 4 Chinese tourists in Boracay Island. 

It was not immediately known if the 4 Chinese who were in close contact with a confirmed case in Hong Kong were the family who landed in Manila on January 22 via Cebu Pacific, and which the Bureau of Immigration was supposed to have already tracked 

The patients were transported to Kalibo town on Friday evening, January 24, for medical observation.  

They are staying in hotel rooms at the government-run Governor Corazon L. Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center in Old Buswang, Kalibo Old Buswang, Kalibo for the next 14 days. 

Cuachon emphasized there is still no confirmed cases of 2019-nCov in the province of Aklan and in the Philippines.   

"They had no flu-like symptoms, no cough or fever. They are made to stay at the training center because they might be at risk of hospital acquired-pneumonia if we admitted them. The 4 Chinese tourists had close contacts with one confirmed coronavirus patient in Hong Kong. The 7 other Chinese who are with these 4 in Boracay are also under medical observation," Cuachon said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

“We are monitoring them every day. After the 14-day incubation period, they will be allowed to go back to China, with the help of the Chinese embassy, and will have to cut short their vacation in Boracay,” Cuachon added. 

3 earlier patients discharged 

Meanwhile, the 3 patients were discharged from isolation rooms at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital (DRSTMH) in Kalibo were discharged by attending doctors on January 28. 

A 6-year-old boy initially admitted in the Dr. Ciriaco H. Tirol Hospital in Boracay Island was referred to the Aklan provincial hospital on January 23 for exhibiting flu-like symptoms. 

Cuachon said the child, who had a history of travel to Wuhan in Hubei province, yielded negative results on coronavirus infection, based on tests conducted by the Philippines Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). 

“He had influenza, not novel coronavirus,” Cuachon said. 

Sample specimens were also taken from two female siblings, aged 8 and 6, from Shanghai, China, who had been admitted to the Aklan provincial hospital on January 26. These were sent to RITM for confirmatory tests. 

In efforts to keep coronavirus from spreading, PHO-Aklan is coordinating with the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine in monitoring the arrival of passengers in ports and airports in the province.

Cuachon urged the public to avoid contact with farm and wild animals, going to crowded places, and contact with sick individuals.  

On Saturday, January 25, Aklan health authorities sent back to Wuhan 80 Boracay-bound tourists. They were part of the group which left the epicenter city a few hours before it was locked down by Chinese authorities. 

Since December 2019, the Wuhan coronavirus has been reported in China, France, Australia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Nepal, Germany, Japan, Macau, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Canada, Hong Kong, United States, and Sri Lanka.

The World Health Organization said the common symptoms of novel coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, and fever. – Rappler.com