Relatives of a Chinese tourist, who tested positive to an incurable disease that normally affects animals, have surprised Hong Kong officials by visiting the Philippines soon after seeing the patient on Jan. 23.
Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan confirmed four family members of the Wuhan male diagnosed with coronavirus arrived at Manilla’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport at about 1:20 p.m. local time.
The viral outbreak recently killed nine people in mainland China and spread to Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau. More cases have been reported in the United States, South Korea, Thailand, and Japan.
“I urge citizens not to go to Hubei province, Wuhan city if not necessary,” Chan said according to Reuters.
The airline confirmed health prevention measures are in place, none of the family members traveling on Cebu Pacific flight 5J111 were quarantined, and the country’s Bureau of Quarantine screened the passengers again.
“We are closely monitoring the spread of the Wuhan virus, and have precautionary measures in place for our flights to and from China,” Cebu Corporate Communications Director Charo Logarta Lagamon told ABS-CBN News. “None of them were held for further observation. Nonetheless, we are trying to coordinate with Hong Kong authorities to verify information in media reports.”
Hong Kong officials earlier quarantined the 39-year-old patient at the border while he was en route from Shenzhen on high-speed rail. His fever and other symptoms tested positive to coronavirus. His condition was determined to be stable while he was kept in isolation at Princess Margaret Hospital according to Chan.
His family members also visited him in Hong Kong and spent the night at a hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, before boarding a flight to Manila.
The airline disinfected its aircraft and encouraged passengers who feel unwell to immediately seek a primary health care professional.
“We encourage passengers to seek medical attention should they exhibit flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, cough, sore throat or fever,” Lagamon said. “We have been coordinating with the authorities to ensure the safety of our passengers, crew and staff.”
The government is contacting train passengers who sat near the patient for observation in isolation wards. A hotline has also been set up for people worried they might have contracted the virus.
The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country’s borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand, and Japan.
Seventeen people in China have died.