MANILA, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday that a Filipina nurse who returned to the country from Saudi Arabia tested positive for the dreaded Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV).
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the Filipina nurse came home last Friday via Saudia Airlines Flight SV 870. She then took Cebu Pacific Flight SJ 997 going home to General Santos City in southern Philippines.
"The (infected) nurse stayed with the other Filipina nurse in ( the northern Philippine province of) Bulacan until her scheduled flight to General Santos City on August 31," said Ona in a press briefing on Wednesday.
He said the two Filipina nurses returned to the Philippines together. They were tested for MERS-CoV in Saudi Arabia but did not wait for the results.
"The two were working in the same hospital in Dammam and they were tested there. Yesterday, they were informed by their supervisor that one of them was positive (for MERS-CoV)," said Ona.
The infected nurse, whose identity was not disclosed by Ona, was brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center to be isolated. Throat swab samples collected from her will be analyzed. Results of the analysis are expected to come out on Wednesday night.
Ona said the DOH is now contacting other passengers of the Saudia Airlines and Cebu Pacific flights taken by the Filipina nurse to monitor their condition.
MERS-CoV is a highly fatal respiratory illness presenting an influenza-like illness characterized by fever, cough, and often with diarrhea.
Despite the entry of the infected Filipina nurse in the country, Ona said the Philippines remains free from MERS-CoV since no one has yet acquired the virus locally.