Genome sequencing study out: No UK variant yet in PH, says DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The new coronavirus variant — first detected in the United Kingdom and believed to be more contagious — has yet to be detected in the Philippines based on the result of a genome sequencing study by experts, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DOH cited the result of the study of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), which conducted a genome sequencing on samples of passengers from countries with reported cases of the new variant, as well as samples from coronavirus patients in the Philippines infected in November and December.
“Based on the lineage analysis through whole-genome sequencing done by the PGC, the UK variant was not detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from 9 institutions,” DOH said.
“The 305 samples analyzed by PGC were composed of positive samples from November-December hospital admissions and from inbound travelers who tested positive upon arrival at the airport,” it added.
However, Hong Kong earlier announced that a passenger from Manila tested positive for the new coronavirus variant.
The DOH said it is in close coordination with Hong Kong’s International Health Regulations 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 health department then reminded local governments and the public to continue following health protocols against COVID-19.
“The DOH calls on all local government units and the transport regulators to continuously implement the health protocols in all settings,” it 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.
The spread of the new variant across the globe prompted governments to impose travel restrictions, including the Philippines which has imposed a travel ban on UK and other countries where the new variant was already detected.
Although there is no evidence yet suggesting the new variant, known as BC117, is more deadly, experts said it’s up to 70% more infectious than the old variant.
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