85 percent of patients under coronavirus watch test negative for the new virus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14)— Close to 400 patients who have been kept under medical watch for possible novel coronavirus infection have already been cleared of the viral disease, a health official said Friday.

As of Friday noon, 386 patients or 85 percent of the running total of 455 "patients under investigation" or PUIs-- those who exhibit flu-like symptoms, as well as had history of travel to China or contact with confirmed cases -- have tested negative for the illness, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. The viral infection caused by the new coronavirus has been officially named COVID-19.

Vergeire also said 191 remain isolated in various hospitals across the country while 260 PUIs have been allowed to go home. Among those discharged were two of the three confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the Philippines – Chinese women from Wuhan – China's city at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, and 51 people who were in the same hospital, flights and hotels as the three confirmed cases. The other confirmed case in the country, a 44 -year-old Chinese man, was the first fatality from the disease outside mainland China.

Meanwhile, 66 suspected cases are still waiting for results of their test.

Another PUI, a 71-year-old man from La Union, died due to heart attack on February 12, bringing to three the total number of PUIs who died due to other causes, Vergeire said. He also had chronic obstructive lung disease -- a condition that makes it hard for people to breathe, she added.

One Hubei evacuee manifesting anxiety-related symptoms

The official also said that a 25-year-old female evacuee from Hubei will be referred for medical care at the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center on Friday after exhibiting anxiety-related symptoms. She is currently completing the 14-day quarantine protocol at the New Clark City in Tarlac set by the government as a precautionary measure.

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The rest of the evacuees have so far not developed sore throat, cough or any other red flag symptom of COVID-19 since they were placed under quarantine on February 9, she added.

Two days ago, two repatriates brought to the hospital after suffering from diarrhea, an "unusual symptom" of COVID-19, tested negative for the viral illness and was brought back to the quarantine site. Another 26-year-old returnee hospitalized because of fever and ear pain was sent back to the New Clark City, after her temperature became normal.

COVID-19 has so far left more than 1,400 individuals dead and sickened over 60,000, mostly in China. There are only three COVID-19 fatalities outside of mainland China-- the first in the Philippines, the second in Hong Kong and the third in Japan.