Filipino UAE traveler who tested positive for UK variant is QC resident; QC gov’t starts contact tracing

(Eagle News) — The Quezon City government said it is coordinating with the Department of Health, and is closely monitoring the case of a resident who tested positive for the Covid-19 United Kingdom variant, B.1.1.7.

In a statement, the Quezon City government said that its epidemiology and surveillance unit has already conducted “contact tracing” of the patient’s close contacts, including the health workers at the isolation facility where the 29-year old male was brought.

“The patient was tested on January 7 upon arrival from Dubai and thereafter stayed at a hotel as part of protocol. The day after, it was confirmed that the person had the so-called United Kingdom variant after his sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center. He was immediately brought to an isolation facility where he is now being cared for,” the Quezon City government said in a statement.

It said that its City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) has contacted the DOH for the list of passengers who were on the same flight as the patient from Dubai to contact trace other passengers who may be from Quezon City

The patient was said to have left the Philippines, together with his female companion, on December 27 last year for a business trip to Dubai.

Both had tested negative before leaving the Philippines, and also tested negative upon arrival in Dubai.

They boarded an Emirates flight in going back to the country.  Upon arrival on Jan. 7, they were swabbed and later tested positive for COVID-19.   Their swab samples were then sent to the PGC for genome testing.  The male traveler then tested positive for the UK variant.  His female companion in the trip, however, had tested negative but is also isolated as a precautionary measure.

“We have to remain cautious and vigilant to avert the spread of this new variant. What is important is we take care of the resident, and make sure we don’t sow panic in the community,” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Wednesday night, Jan. 13.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night, Jan. 13, said that the patient was a resident of Kamuning, Quezon City, and that he and his girlfriend were real estate agents.  Both, however, mostly stayed home before they flew for a business trip to Dubai.

Duque said that the two visited malls and tourist spots of the United Arab Emirates before flying back to the country.

-Close contacts of patient now isolated, being monitored-

Belmonte said that as an added precautionary measure, the patient’s immediate household contacts have been brought to an isolation facility where they were also tested.

The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit has also “conducted contact tracing on the resident’s close contacts upon his arrival like the health workers at the isolation facility where he was brought, and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) that brought him from the hotel to the isolation facility.”

“CESU also initiated heightened surveillance in the community of the resident to determine the presence of clustered cases,” a statement from the Quezon City government said.

“We are doing everything we can to trace and isolate, knowing fully well that this variant is more contagious but not more virulent”, said CESU head Dr. Rolly Cruz.

Mayor Belmonte again reminded the city residents to intensify practicing minimum health standards and report all symptoms immediately, following the confirmation of the new variant in the city.

(Eagle News Service)