DOH, PGC: No UK COVID-19 variant detected in PHL

(Eagle News) — The Department of Health and the Philippine Genome Center on Wednesday, January 6, said the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus has not yet been detected in the country.

The DOH and the PGC issued the statement after Hong Kong said a traveler from the Philippines had been found to have B.1.1.7, which is said to be up to 70 percent more infectious.

According to their joint statement, based on the lineage analysis through whole genome sequencing done by the PGC, there was no UK variant in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions.

The 305 samples analyzed by PGC were composed of positive samples from November to December hospital admissions and from inbound travelers who tested positive upon arrival at the airport, the statement said.

Nonetheless, the statement said the DOH is  in close coordination with Hong Kong’s International Health Regulations focal point to “secure official notification and other pertinent information regarding the Hong Kong resident who tested positive for the variant following travel history from the Philippines.”

“The DOH calls on all local government units and the transport regulators to continuously implement the health protocols in all settings,” the statement said.

“Strictly following the minimum public health standards (MPHS) is still the best measure to cut transmission of the variant and minimize the opportunities for virus mutation,” it added.