Mom, GF of UK variant patient, and 9 others test positive for Covid-19
MANILA, Philippines — A total of 11 individuals who came in contact with the 29-year-old Filipino who contracted the more contagious variant of Covid-19 have tested positive for coronavirus, among them the patient’s mother and his girlfriend, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire confirmed that eight co-passengers of the Filipino patient — the first confirmed case of the new variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom known as B117 — tested positive for Covid-19 as earlier reported by the Philippine Red Cross, which conducted the swab tests of the returning passengers.
The patient was earlier reported to have traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates with his girlfriend on a business trip for a few days, then they returned to Manila on January 7 via Emirates Flight EK 332.
Vergeire said that the patient’s mother, his girlfriend, and another close contact tested positive for the viral illness.
“Sa mga nagtest, ang lumabas na positive sa re-swabbing ha iyong nanay, girlfriend at isang close contact so that’s an additional three from the initial na walo na pasahero. So that’s 11. Kung isasama iyong index case (UK variant-positive patient), that’s 12,” Vergeire said.
The mother and girlfriend of the patient initially tested negative for Covid-19 but yielded a positive test result in another round of testing.
“Pinadala na rin (sa Philippine Genome Center) for sequencing iyong kanilang specimen,” Vergeire said.
Meanwhile, the mother’s positive result has over 30 CT or cycle threshold value, which according to Vergeire, indicates low viral load.
The new variant is associated with a higher viral load, meaning a greater concentration of virus particles in patients’ bodies, possibly contributing to increased transmission.
Authorities have isolated all but six of the 213 total identified contacts of the UK variant patient. The six yet-to-be-found contacts are part of the 159 passengers of the Emirates flight taken by the index patient.
Forty-nine other close contacts are identified such as the health workers who transported the patient to an isolation facility. All of them have also been swabbed and isolated, of which one tested positive for Covid-19. But Vergeire noted that the close contact who tested positive is already in the recovery stage after contracting the virus in mid-December.
“We all know that pwedeng mag-stay iyong remnants ng virus and can still be detected up to eight weeks,” the Health official explained.
The Philippine Genome Center is expected to release this week the result of the sequencing study on the samples, which would determine whether the contacts who tested positive for the disease also carry the UK variant.
The UK variant patient remains in stable condition, according to Vergeire.
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