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DOH on UK variant alert

Francisco Duque III
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III

HEALTH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III yesterday disclosed that five close contacts of the first confirmed UK variant case in the country tested positive for COVID-19 but further test results will determine if they have contracted the new strain.

The Department of Health also confirmed that eight co-passengers aboard Emirates Dubai-Manila Flight EK332 tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival here in the country.

Duque said the eight co-passengers are all Filipino citizens who were tested via RT-PCR and quarantined upon arrival. Upon the release of positive RT-PCR results, the eight were immediately transferred to isolation facilities and their samples were secured from confirming laboratories for whole genome sequencing to determine the presence of the UK variant.

“However, preliminary analysis showed that samples from all positive cases yielded a Cycle Threshold value greater than 30, which indicates low viral load and entails the need for re-swabbing to secure samples for sequencing. As of press time, all eight passengers are scheduled to be swabbed before Thursday, Jan. 21.

The health chief said all eight co-passengers are in stable condition and will remain under strict monitoring while completing isolation and while waiting for results of re-swabbing. Contact tracing also showed that the eight cases had no close contact when they arrived, and infection and prevention control practices were strictly observed by personnel who attended to the said cases.

Meanwhile, the 5 close contacts of the patient who recently tested positive for the UK variant are:

● his partner, who was aboard flight EK332 but tested negative upon arrival;

Makati City Pabakuna

● two other co-passengers who also initially tested negative;

● another household member; and

● a healthcare worker from Quezon City who attended to the variant case.

Samples from all five close contacts who tested positive have been sent to the UP Philippine Genome Center for sequencing, and the DOH is now awaiting the results to determine if they are also infected with the UK variant. All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring.

The DOH thanked the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Regional and Local Epidemiology and Surveillance Units, the Quezon City Local Government Unit, and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong for their efforts in ensuring immediate and comprehensive contact tracing and response to mitigate further spread of the disease.

The Health Department reiterated that regardless of the variant, strict observance of the Minimum Public Health Standards remains to be the most effective strategy in preventing COVID-19 transmission and in reducing the chances of viral mutation.

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Lee Ann P. Ducusin
B.A. Journalism