DOH tracing 41 close contacts of 2 cases with India COVID-19 variant
MANILA, Philippines — Authorities are tracing and checking the health status of 41 close contacts of the returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who had tested positive of coronavirus disease and found to be carrying the B.1.617 variant first detected in India, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there are six close contacts of the 37-year-old ROF during his flight from Oman. He arrived in the Philippines on April 10.
Meanwhile, the 58-year-old ROF who arrived in the Philippines from the United Arab Emirates on April 29 had 35 close contacts during his flight.
“We are tracing all of them and trying to check all of their statuses,” Vergeire said in an online press briefing.
However, Vergeire assured that all close contacts of the two cases, like all arriving travelers, were subjected to proper quarantine and testing protocols upon their arrival to the country.
“The protocols were followed and hopefully hindi naman nagkaroon ng breaches in protocols para masabi natin na may danger sa ating mga kababayan regarding these passengers,” she added.
(The protocols were followed and hopefully there were no breaches in protocols for us to say there is danger to the public regarding these passengers.)
The two ROFs have already recovered and are now in their respective regions in Soccsksargen and Bicol.
The B.1.617 variant was found to have 15 mutations, including the E484Q and L452R. Health experts said that the E484Q mutation is similar to the E484K called the “escape mutation” that helps the virus get past the body’s immune system. Meanwhile, the L452R was found by a Californian study to be an efficient spreader of the virus.
The sub-lineage of the variant detected from the two ROFs was the B.1.617.2, which also contains the T478K mutation. Vergeire said initial findings showed that this mutation is also linked to increased transmissibility of the virus and to the neutralization of antibodies, but added that further studies are needed to confirm its characteristics.
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