GMA ANNOUNCES FIRST "PROBABLE" SARS CASEManila, April 12, 2003 -- President Arroyo yesterday reported the first "probable" case of the killer pneumonia case in the Philippines but said the 64-year-old male foreigner had since been cured. "The bad news is we had our first probable SARS case. The good news is that the patient has been cured," the President told reporters. Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said the unnamed 64-year-old patient splits his time between Hong Kong and the Philippines. The Philippines has so far remained free from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that has hit hard many of its Southeast Asian neighbors. "A week before, he went shopping in the Philippines. He had a fever and was immediately confined. During confinement he had positive influenza infection," but laboratory results later showed his ailment "was not consistent with influenza." The foreigner had reportedly been confined and isolated for 10 days in an undisclosed hospital in Metro Manila. Fortunately, the persons who had contact with the foreigner had not shown any signs of the sickness. The President, however, ordered the Department of Health to confine the patient for another week for further observation and instructed the DoH and other affected agencies to step-up their campaign on SARS. The Philippine consulates abroad have also been ordered to report daily on any SARS news while airport authorities were urged to require airlines from Hong Kong, China and Singapore to institute strict pre-departure medical screening of passengers going to the country to be done by registered physicians. The President also ordered airports in Manila, Cebu and Laoag to adopt stricter screening of arrivals from the cities with an active SARS outbreak. Meanwhile, Turkey yesterday advised its nationals against traveling to the Philippines and Malaysia due to the deadly atypical pneumonia which has been severely affecting the region. "We advise citizens not to travel to the Philippines and Malaysia unless they're forced to due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome," the foreign ministry said.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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