6 co-passengers of Chinese couple with novel coronavirus showed flu-like symptoms – police

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6) – Six passengers who took the same Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flights as the Chinese couple infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported to show flu-like symptoms, the Philippine National Police said Thursday.

Four of those who earlier showed red flag signs of the contagious new virus, which was first identified in a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, are already on quarantine in different hospitals while the two are at home.

PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Deputy Chief, Colonel Rhoderick Armamento, said personnel from the Health department will fetch the two individuals on quarantine within the day.

The investigative arm of the PNP was tasked to track down people who were in contact with the Philippines' first two confirmed cases of infection with the new coronavirus. The couple arrived in the country two weeks ago from Wuhan — the Chinese city at the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

The involvement of the police came after Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a former top cop, suggested during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the government’s response on the 2019-nCoV outbreak, that the Health Department submit to the PNP passenger manifests from airline companies. He said the PNP would be able to track down those people in 24 hours.

Dela Rosa made the suggestion after the DOH admitted at the hearing that it has been able to assess only 58 of the 331 plane passengers who may have come in contact with the pair.

Armamento said they established a communications center being manned by personnel from the CIDG-National Capital Region, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, and the Department of Health to contact the 193 passengers who took the following domestic flights together with the couple with nCoV infection:

-DG 6519 (Cebu-Dumaguete), Jan. 21, 2020

-PR 2542 (Dumaguete-Manila), Jan. 25, 2020.

All passengers are being reached through phone and email and are being advised to avoid further unnecessary contact with people and stay at home as much as possible, the police official said.

However, Armamento admitted they are having issues in reaching other passengers because their contact numbers are not working.

Tiningnan namin, vinalidate namin 'yung mga numbers and it seems yung iba doon, apparently, non-existent,” he said.

[Translation: We are looking at and validating the (passengers’) numbers because it seems that some of them (contact details) are apparently non-existent.]

He added that they already talked to the airlines concerned to provide them with contact details that work.

The couple also arrived in Cebu on January 21 from Hong Kong on Cebu Pacific flight 5J 241.

One of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, a 44-year-old Chinese man, died from health complications Saturday, making him the first 2019-nCoV fatality outside of mainland China. He has yet to be cremated, according to health authorities.

His partner, a 38-year-old Chinese woman, no longer has fever, cough and colds but recent tests showed she is still infected with 2019-nCoV. She is still confined at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

The death toll from the 2019-nCoV has reached over 560 people and infected over 28,000 -- mostly in China. The number includes two newborns in Wuhan, with the youngest case diagnosed at 30 hours old, CNN reported, citing China's state media.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer Catherine Modesto contributed to this report