No UK COVID-19 variant detected in PH—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 6, 2021   •   224

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) assured that the UK variant of the SARS-COV-2 virus has not yet been detected in the country.

This is amid reports that one of the passengers of a flight from Manila to Hong Kong tested positive for the said variant.

Based on the report of the Health Department and the Philippine Genome Center (PCG) on Wednesday (January 6), the UK variant has not been detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions.

“The 305 samples analysed by PGC were composed of positive samples from November-December hospital admissions and from inbound travellers who tested positive upon arrival at the airport,” the DOH said.

The department also said it is in close coordination with Hong Kong’s International Health Regulations for further information about the Manila passenger. They also recommended expanding the country’s travel ban.

Initial information states that the variant was found in a 30-year-old female Hong Kong resident who returned from Manila on December 22.

Hong Kong has four confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 strain. Two cases from London, one from France, and the one from Manila. AAC

Phl total COVID-19 case exceeds half-a-million mark

Maris Federez   •   January 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 1,895 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), bringing the overall number of active cases to 24,691.

As of the health department’s 4:00 PM case bulletin on Sunday (January 17), the DOH reported that 5,868 have recuperated from the disease, effecting 435,991 total number of recoveries; and 11 fatalities, tallying to 9,895 total deaths.

These numbers added up to 500,577 COVID-19 cases nationwide.

Meanwhile, the top 5 cities and provinces with new confirmed COVID-19 cases are Davao (107), Quezon City (106), Isabela (65), Pampanga (63), and Bulacan (62).

A large majority (84.6%)  of the reported active cases have exhibited mild symptoms of the disease. Around 6 percent were asymptomatic, while 3 percent manifested severe symptoms. Only less than 1 percent showed moderate symptoms.—/mbmf

Inbound travelers positive for COVID-19 to undergo genome sequencing, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – All travelers who test positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) upon arrival in the Philippines will be subjected to genome sequencing to check for the presence of new variants, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

The DOH announced the new directive after a 29-year old Filipino who traveled to Dubai in December tested positive for the more transmissible COVID-19 variant first reported in the United Kingdom.

“There was instruction already na lahat ng parating na pasahero basta’t positive atin na pong isu-isubject sa [genome] sequencing,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

Genomic sequencing is a process that allows scientists to analyze and determine how a virus has mutated and to detect if it has the new variants based on the samples taken from coronavirus-infected patients.

Previously, authorities conducted random sequencing of the samples of inbound passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Amid the growing number of cases of new COVID-19 variants, the DOH said the government is strengthening its genomic biosurveillance as it is “not feasible” for the country to totally shut its borders.

“Our safeguard would be the biosurveillance that we will be doing and the strict protocols in our ports of entry,” Vergeire said.

She also pointed out that none of the other countries are implementing a total travel ban amid the reported spread of new coronavirus variants.

“Wala pa naman tayong move na ganyan sa ngayon na pinag-uusapan sa Inter- Agency Task Force… Kailangan lang natin maintindihan na iyon pong mga ibang mga countries na may variant, wala namang community transmission… But, of course, that would be part of something to be considered by the IATF in the coming days,” she said.

Malacañang has announced Friday that the government is extending for another two weeks that travel restrictions on foreign passengers coming from 32 countries. Filipinos coming from countries covered by the travel ban are still allowed to enter the Philippines but will be required to undergo quarantine for two weeks regardless of their COVID-19 test result. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Close contacts ng Pinoy na may UK COVID-19 variant na ‘di nakikipagtulungan sa otoridad, mahaharap sa parusa – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Maaaring maharap sa parusa ang sinomang close contact ng Pilipinong nag-positibo sa UK variant ng COVID-19 na hindi makikipagtulungan sa mga otoridad, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Inilabas ng DOH ang babala sa gitna ng ginagawa nitong contact tracing sa lahat ng nakasalamuha ng Pilipinong nagkaroon ng UK coronavirus variant matapos bumiyahe palabas ng bansa noong Disyembre.

Una nang iniulat ng DOH na ang Pilipinong naimpeksyon ng UK COVID-19 variant ay bumiyahe pa-United Arab Emirates noong Disyembre. Umuwi ito sa bansa nitong Enero 7 kasama ang kanyang kasintahan sakay ng eroplanong may lulang 159 iba pang mga pasahero.

Ayon kay Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, 92 porsiyento o 146 na ng close contacts ng pasyente ang nakausap ng DOH. Ang nalalabing 13 naman ay hindi pa umano tumutugon o kaya ay kinakansela ang kanilang tawag.

Paalala ni Vergeire na sa ilalim ng batas, maaaring maharap sa multa o parusang pagkakakulong ang sinomang close contacts ng pasyente na hindi makikipagtulungan sa mga otoridad.

“There is this violation, we have a law, RA 11332, law on notifiable diseases… Maaari po tayong magkaroon ng mga sanctions for these persons especially kung talagang kasama siya as contact siya, and the risk of him spreading the diseases ay nandoon,” ang wika ni Vergeire.

Ayon kay Vergeire, nasa quarantine facilities na ang ilan sa close contacts ng UK variant-positive na pasyante habang ang ilan naman ay pinayagang mag-home quarantine alinsunod sa panuntunan. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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