MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH), UP-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) have confirmed the detection of the B.1.1.7 SARS-Cov-2 variant in 16 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 17.
The DOH said in a statement on Friday (January 22) that 12 of the 16 additional cases of B.1.1.7, or more commonly called UK variant, are from Bontoc, Mountain Province, consisting of seven males and five females. 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 with investigation still underway to identify these cases’ exposure and travel histories, it added.
The health department also reported that the two other patients with the UK variant are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who arrived on December 29, 2020 from Lebanon, one of the countries included in the travel restrictions due to the detection of the B.1.1.7 variant. They were aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 8661.
The first case, a 64-year old female whose indicated local address is Jaro, Iloilo City, was isolated in San Juan, Metro Manila and was discharged on January 9. The other, a 47-year old Filipina whose reported local address is Binangonan in Rizal, was quarantined in New Clark City and discharged from isolation on January 13.
The last two B.1.1.7 variant cases are local cases detected in La Trinidad, Benguet, currently admitted in a Benguet Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility; and in Calamba City, Laguna who had been discharged after receiving a negative result on January 16.
The DOH said both have no known contact to any confirmed case or travel history from outside the country.
Of the additional 16 cases with B.1.1.7 variant detected, 3 have already recovered, 13 are active cases—3 of which are asymptomatic and 10 are exhibiting mild symptoms.
Meanwhile, the local government of Bontoc has urged the public to intensify adherence to basic health protocols.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said lockdown is still in effect.
“Rest assured that the LGU is doing its best to help deter further spread. We will update you as soon as possible as to intensified measures that the MIATF would be undertaking. Official statements and updates shall be released by DOH, PLGU and MLGU,” Odsey said.
The local chief executive also appealed for everyone to “cooperate and let us keep safe. Let us all be part of the solution. Together, we shall overcome. We work as One; we heal as One!”
The health department ensured the public that biosurveillance is in place and will continue to expand its 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. 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,” the health department advisory concluded.—/mbmf