GMA ANNOUNCES FIRST "PROBABLE" SARS CASE

Manila, 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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