10 quarantined Filipinos test negative for coronavirus, 4 await lab results

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — Ten Filipinos quarantined at the New Clark City have been cleared for coronavirus infection while four others are awaiting their test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), a health official said Monday.

Health Assistant Maria Rosario Vergeire said 14 Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship showed flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and sore throat that could indicate COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"Among the 14 PUIs (patients under investigation), 10 tested negative for COVID-19 while 4 are with pending laboratory results. The PUIs are still admitted at the referral facility," Health Assistant Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing.

This is contrary to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III's earlier statement that all 13 symptomatic repatriates have tested negative for the highly-infectious illness.

Eight of the 10 who tested negative are set to be sent back to the New Clark City Athlete's Village to complete their quarantine after recovering from their mild illnesses.

All in all, 445 Filipinos — mostly crew members — were brought home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship last week. The repatriates, along with the health and foreign affairs personnel and volunteers from the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo who helped bring them home, were transported to the sporting village in Tarlac for the second round of 14-day quarantine.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Hans Cacdac said the Filipino crew will be given P10,000 each and transportation allowance to travel from New Clark City to their homes in the Philippines once they complete the quarantine requirements.

The repatriation did not include 80 Filipinos who have fallen ill to COVID-19 in Japan. Of this number, 32 have already recovered. Ten of those have already returned to the Philippines, while 22 other await repatriation details and will undergo strict DOH monitoring.

Some Americans, Britons, and Australians who were previously on the Diamond Princess only tested positive for coronavirus after they returned home from a 14-day quarantine. Among them is a 78-year-old man from Perth, Australia who became that country's first reported death due to the virus.

The World Health Organization said the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea, while others become infected but don’t develop any symptoms. About 80 percent of those infected recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing. Older people and those with underlying medical problmes like high blood pressure or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness, the WHO added.

There are 43 patients under investigation admitted in various hospitals. The Philippines has three confirmed COVID-19 cases. Two of them have already recovered and returned to China, while one died — the first recorded death outside of mainland China.