Italian Citizen Discharged from Isolation After Testing Negative for Coronavirus

Italian Citizen Discharged from Isolation After Testing Negative for Coronavirus

The Stamford Medical clinic in Mandarin, Dili, where the man was treated since Friday. (Image/Robert Baird)

DILI, 10 March 2020 (TATOLI)- Timor-Leste remains without a confirmed case of Covid-19, after an Italian man kept in isolation since Friday returned a negative test result.

The 43-year-old had recently returned from Italy, which now has the greatest number of confirmed cases (9,172) outside China. Staff from Stamford Clinic in Dili moved him into isolation on Friday, when he presented with symptoms consistent with the virus.

But Vice-Minister for Health, Élia António de Araújo dos Reis Amaral, said his illness appears to be unrelated.

Vice-Minister for Health, Élia António de Araújo dos Reis Amaral (Image/Egas Cristovao)

“The Ministry of Health (MS) confirms the swab sample sent to Darwin, Australia has come back this afternoon. After analysing, the result was negative for coronavirus,” Ms  Elia said.

The patient has been discharged, and the ministry stressed he posed “no threat” to public health.

Timor-Leste is one of just three Southeast Asian countries — including Myanmar and Laos — that remains free of the virus which has infected 113,000 people across the globe since December.

The Ministry had earlier confirmed via social media a second foreign national with “respiratory symptoms”, and who had recently travelled to “high-risk countries” was being investigated for Covid-19.

“He remains stable and is being observed. Samples have been taken from him and will be sent to Australia for testing,” the ministry said.

Virus a ‘national security’ situation: Élia

Following a meeting of the interministerial committee, which includes current Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, Vice-Minister Élia described Covid-19 as a “national security” challenge.

“Government and society must unite in order to have strength in preparation to combat  this virus,” she said.

She confirmed the MS would follow the World Health Organisation’s advice in setting up quarantine at the Bairro Formosa clinic in Dili, and Tibar, about 17 kilometres west of the city.

“These places are 80 per cent prepared, and we will follow the WHO recommendations to quarantine [patients] where our health professionals can monitor them,” she said in a statement.

WHO Public Health Advice (Image/WHO)

Health officials sparked angry protests on Sunday at Tibar, and were blocked from entering the quarantine site for several hours by locals unhappy that suspected Covid-19 patients would be housed there.

The Vice-Minister stressed the need for extra vigilance with hygiene, advising people to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly with soap, cover their mouth when sneezing and keep at least 1 metre anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

“And avoid greeting one another by shaking hands in order to avoid this disease in our country,” she said.

Journalist: Felicidade Ximenes

Editors: Robert Baird; Agapito dos Santos

Translation: Nelia Borges


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