Experts detect 16 additional UK-variant cases in Phl

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021   •   261

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

More frontliners in Manila register for city’s COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—More frontliners in the city of Manila have pre-registered for the city’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said that the number of registrants increased from the initial 200 to 1,900 on Monday when the government launched its vaccination drive.

This is almost half of the total number of medical frontliners in six government hospitals in the city.

Maraming na-inspire na mga doctor at nurses. So, umakyat ng 1,900 ang aming nagparehistro. So, kaya ang payo ko, don’t miss the opportunity. Ang pinakamabisang bakuna ay ang bakunang nasa braso mo (A lot of doctors and nurses were inspired so 1,900 registered. My advice is to not miss the opportunity. The most effective vaccine is the vaccine injected in your arm), he said.

Domagoso assured vaccine registrants they can still choose the brand of vaccine they want to receive.

An initial 3,000 Sinovac vaccine vials have been delivered to Manila City which will be administered to 1,500 individuals. The city government aims to vaccinate one of the two doses within the week.

Meanwhile, Domagoso said he is waiting for a proper clearance before getting vaccinated as policy states that medical frontliners are the priority for the COVID-19 vaccines. AAC

PH detects 6 cases of South Africa COVID-19 variant, 30 new cases of UK variant

UNTV News   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded six new cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) of COVID-19; 30 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) and 2 cases additional cases with mutations of interest.

An official statement issued by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said, the new cases were among 8th batch of 350 samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center.

Of the six South African variant cases, three are local cases, two are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and one case is still being verified as to location.

The three local cases were reported as residents of Pasay City. Meanwhile, the two returning overseas Filipinos arrived in the country from UAE and Qatar; their statuses are currently being verified. Moreover, the DOH is currently verifying if the sixth case is a local case or an imported case.

“To date, there are already 48 countries with reported cases of the B.1.351 variant. While there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease, the pattern of mutations within this variant suggests higher transmissibility and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy,” DOH said.

Meanwhile, of the 30 new cases of the UK variant 20 of these are ROFs; three are local cases, and seven are currently being verified if these are local cases or ROFs.

The 20 detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between January 20 and February 16, 2021. Thirteen (13) of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven have now recovered.

On the other hand, the three (3) local B.1.1.7 variant cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region.

One case is currently active and is admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality. The relation of the 3 local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated.

On the cases with mutations of interest, the latest sequencing results showed that two (2) additional samples from Region 7 were found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.

The DOH reiterated that despite the arrival of the vaccines in the country, adherence to minimum public health standards is still the best course of action to prevent community transmission and further virus mutations.

San Juan Mayor Zamora contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora confirmed on Monday that he has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post, Zamora said he is currently under quarantine at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“I would like to announce that I have tested positive with COVID-19. My results came out today after a routine swab test yesterday evening, February 28, 2021. A confirmatory test was done today and the results turned out to be positive,” he said.

“I have decided to quarantine myself in Cardinal Santos Medical Center to ensure that I do not transmit the virus to anyone else in the community and to protect everyone around me including my children and my wife who is a cancer survivor,” he added.

I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am asymptomatic and in good physical condition. I have decided to quarantine…

Posted by Mayor Francis Zamora on Monday, March 1, 2021

He advised those who came in contact with him in the past few days to have themselves tested for the virus and coordinate with the City Health Office for the conduct of free RT-PCR test.

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