Central Luzon logs 5 cases of UK, S. Africa variants
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The more contagious variants of the coronavirus disease were found in five patients in three provinces in Central Luzon, records from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.
A March 2 letter by the DOH epidemiology bureau to Dr. Cesar Cassion, regional director of the DOH in Central Luzon, said three of these patients, age 33 to 36, had tested positive for the UK variant, also known as B117.
Two were overseas Filipinos who returned from the United Arab Emirates and residents of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija province, and City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan province, respectively; and a resident of San Ildefonso town, also in Bulacan.
The other two were also returning Filipinos and were infected with the South Africa variant or B1351. They came from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and are now in their hometowns in the provinces of Pampanga and Bulacan.
Both COVID-19 strains were named after the country where these were first detected. The South Africa variant could reportedly make COVID-19 vaccines less effective.
The infections of the five patients were confirmed through genome sequencing done by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center. Most of these patients were swabbed by Philippine Red Cross in the Port Area in Manila in February, the DOH said.
Health authorities said they would investigate the cases to complete their profiles and identify their close contacts.
Officials of Pampanga said the South Africa variant case in Minalin town did not go home under the “Balik Pampanga” program for returning Filipinos.
Minalin Mayor Edgar Flores on Thursday said the patient, a 36-year-old woman who returned to the province from Dubai last month, was swabbed, quarantined and issued medical clearances by national agencies.
The patient was the first known South African variant case in the province.
Dr. Dax Tidula, COVID-19 incidents chief of Pampanga, said the woman would be taken to an isolation facility in New Clark City in nearby Tarlac province.The case of the Pampanga woman raised several questions from Gov. Dennis Pineda since the patient was discharged from a quarantine facility in Metro Manila.
It was during the genome sequencing process of random samples that the South Africa variant was found in her, the governor said.
“If [the patient] belonged to a group from where a random sampling would be done, why was she instructed to go home when the safest thing to do was hold her in the meantime for purposes of another test?” Pineda asked.
People who came in contact with the woman had been identified and due for tests, Pineda told the Inquirer.
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.