Two additional incidences of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported in the Philippines, bringing the total number of cases to five, the Department of Health confirmed on Friday, March 6.
The fourth reported case is a 48-year-old male Filipino who previously traveled to Japan. He returned on February 25 and experienced chills and fever starting March 3.
“He is currently stable and admitted [to] the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters on Friday.
The fifth case is also the country’s first local case of the disease: a 63-year-old Filipino male with no travel history outside of the country.
He reportedly experienced coughing with phlegm on February 25 and sought medical consultation on March 1.
Duque noted, however, that while the fifth case can be considered a local case, it is premature to say he can be treated as a confirmed local transmission of the virus.
“There is no transmission to speak of because we only have one,” he said.
The health secretary added, “That’s why we’re doing contact tracing to establish whether or not there are other local cases or clustering of cases.”
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO’s representative in the Philippines, told reporters on Friday that the fifth case does not mean widespread contamination.
“Even the fifth case is a local transmission, but getting another case in a local contact does not mean widespread contamination. We already know that this disease is transmitted upon close contacts,” Abeyasinghe said.
On January 30, the DOH confirmed the first COVID-19 case in the Philippines — a 38-year-old Chinese woman who arrived in the country via Hong Kong last January 21.
Her companion, a 44-year-old male, was confirmed to be the second case as well as the first confirmed carrier of the virus in the country.
The second case passed away on February 1 after he was confined for fever, cough and sore throat.
The country’s third case was reported on February 5 — a 60-year-old Chinese woman who came from Wuhan, China and traveled to Cebu City via a flight from Hong Kong on January 20. She was admitted to a hospital in Bohol for fever and runny nose and was discharged after getting negative test results. She returned to China through a flight from Cebu on January 31.