JUST IN: UK COVID-19 variant detected in PHL — DOH, PGC


(Eagle News) — The Department of Health and the Philippine Genome Center on Wednesday, January 13, confirmed the COVID-19 variant first seen in the United Kingdom has been detected in the country.

In a joint statement, the DOH and the PGC said this was after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yielded positive genome sequencing results.

The statement said the patient was a male resident of Quezon City who departed for Dubai on December 27, 2020 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines last January 7, 2021 via  Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

Upon arrival, the statement said the patient was referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for the whole genome sequencing.

According to the statement, the patient was also accompanied by his female partner during his trip, but she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival.

Nonetheless, the female is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.

“Both of the returning Filipinos had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City,” the statement said.

The statement said immediate contact tracing was done in close coordination with the QC government, and the initially identified contacts are so far asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine.

Contact tracing of other passengers on board that Emirates flight is also underway.

The statement said the DOH has also coordinated with the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the expansion of contact tracing to include third-generation close contacts for known B.1.1.7 cases.

“All close contacts of confirmed B.1.1.7 cases shall also undergo strict 14-day facility-based quarantine,” the statement said.

Earlier, Hong Kong said a traveler from the Philippines tested positive for the UK COVID-19 variant there.

But the DOH and the PGC said as of January 2, the variant, said to be up to 70 percent more infectious, had not yet been detected.

The Philippines has so far banned foreign travelers from over 30 countries following reports of the UK COVID-19 strain and the South African COVID-19 strain in those countries.