MANILA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines government reported on Friday that two Filipinos tested positive of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to five.

Health Secretary of the Philippines Francisco Duque told a news conference that the two new cases were a 48-year-old Filipino male with travel history to Japan and a 62-year-old Filipino male with no travel history.

Duque said the 48-year-old Filipino male that traveled to Japan returned to the Philippines on Feb. 25 and experienced chills and fever beginning March 3.

"The patient is currently stable and admitted at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine," he said.

Duque said the 62-year-old Filipino male experienced cough with phlegm on Feb. 25. "The patient sought medical consultation at a hospital in Metro Manila last March 1 and was admitted with severe pneumonia," he said.

Already, Duque said contact tracing is being done for the two cases and samples have already been collected from close contacts.

"The Department of Health is coordinating closely with the concerned local government units to identify persons who had interaction with the confirmed cases and strengthening of infection prevention and control protocols," he added.

The 62-year-old male case is known to have regularly visited a Muslim prayer hall in San Juan City in Metro Manila.

"These recent developments are significant, but we are prepared to respond to its potential consequences. Our priority is to protect our health workers and the most vulnerable populations," Duque said.

Duque said the Philippines "can still contain the spread of the virus in the country.

He said it is premature to say that there is local transmission, adding that there is only one case with no know travel history.
"There is no transmission to speak of as of yet because we only have one. We're doing contact tracing to establish whether or not there's local transmission," Duque said.

Prior to the two new confirmed cases, the Philippines has three confirmed COVID-19 cases. Two of them recovered while one died.