16 new COVID-19 patients confirmed to be UK variant carriers — DOH
MANILA, Philippines — There are 16 new COVID-19 patients carrying the variant from the United Kingdom (UK), the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed late Friday night.
In a statement, the DOH said that the B117 variant of the 2019 novel coronavirus, believed to be more infectious, is now detected in a total 17 patients in the country — including the 12 patients mentioned by the local government of Bontoc, Mountain Province earlier.
“Following strengthened biosurveillance activities amid the detection of the first B117 variant in the country last January 13, the Department of Health (DOH), UP-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) today confirmed the detection of the B117 variant in 16 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 17,” DOH said.
“Twelve of the 16 additional cases are from Bontoc, Mountain Province. Of these 12 cases, seven are male and five are female. Three are aged below 18 years old and another three are above 60. Contact tracing was immediately initiated to contain the spread of the infection. Investigation is also underway to identify these cases’ exposure and travel histories,” it added.
DOH clarified that they are doing contact tracing to identify the people’s exposure and travel histories. Furthermore, the department added that two other patients are overseas Filipino workers who returned to the country from Lebanon last December 29.
“Meanwhile, two other patients with the B117 variant are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who arrived on December 29, 2020 from Lebanon, a country included in the travel restrictions due to the detection of the B117 variant in said country,” the department noted.
“The cases were aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 8661. The first case is a 64-year old female whose indicated local address is Jaro, Iloilo City. The patient was isolated in San Juan, Metro Manila and discharged on January 9. The other is a 47-year old Filipina whose reported local address is Binangonan, Rizal and was quarantined in New Clark City and discharged from isolation on January 13,” it added.
Earlier, the local government of Bontoc posted on Facebook an announcement that 12 of the 35 COVID-19 specimens from patients with active cases were confirmed to be the UK variant.
Bontoc officials have yet to clarify how the variant reached the town, which sits above the Cordillera mountains, but it assured to update people about possible intensified measures due to these developments.
Prior to this, the UK variant was only found in the infected close contacts of a businessman from Quezon City — the country’s first confirmed UK variant carrier.
As of Wednesday, 13 of the businessman’s close contacts are infected with the coronavirus. It is unclear though whether the other patients carrying the UK variant are indeed close contacts of the man from Quezon City.
DOH assured the public that they will continue to expand their biosurveillance capabilities to detect the variant accurately and quickly
“Biosurveillance is in place, and we will continue to expand our capacities to detect all COVID variants of public health importance. The DOH calls on local government units to ensure strict monitoring and compliance to quarantine protocols in their respective localities,” DOH said.
“The DOH also reiterates that non-adherence and incorrect adherence to minimum public health standards (MPHS) are the drivers of transmission and mutation and therefore strongly urges the public to strictly and properly follow the MPHS in all settings,” it added.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.