DOH: UK variant patient’s contacts who test positive for coronavirus now at 13
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Wednesday that 13 people had so far tested positive for coronavirus disease after exposure to a 29-year-old Filipino who had contracted the most infectious variant of Covid-19.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, earlier in a press briefing, said the patient’s mother, girlfriend, and 8 co-passengers, as well as a healthcare worker who transported the index case in an isolation facility, have all tested positive for Covid-19.
But in a statement, the DOH said two more co-passengers of the patient described by the agency as “close contacts” had yielded positive test results after initial negative tests for viral illness.
The patient traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with his girlfriend on a business trip for a few days, then they returned to Manila on Jan. 7 via Emirates Flight EK 332. Upon his return, he tested positive for Covid-19 and was later announced to have contracted the new variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
All the samples of his close contacts who tested positive have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for sequencing to determine if they also have the UK variant.
“All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring,” the DOH said.
As for the eight passengers who tested positive for Covid-19, the preliminary analysis indicated that their samples yielded a Cycle Threshold value greater than 30, which suggests low viral load and entails the need for re-swabbing to secure samples for sequencing, the DOH noted.
A higher viral load is associated with the new variant, which implies a higher concentration of virus particles in patients’ bodies, likely leading to increased transmission.
The eight passengers, all of whom are in stable condition and under strict supervision while in isolation, will be re-swabbed before Thursday.
“Contact tracing also showed that the 8 cases had no close contact when they arrived, and infection and prevention control practices were strictly observed by personnel who attended to the said cases,” the DOH said.
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