QC gov’t taking care of resident who tested positive for COVID-19 UK variant

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021   •   104

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Quezon City in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) is closely monitoring the case of a resident who tested positive for the B117, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant discovered in the United Kingdom.

Following the detection, the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) has conducted contact tracing on the resident’s close contacts upon his arrival such as the health workers at the isolation facility where he was brought, as well as the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) that brought him from the hotel to the isolation facility.

The CESU is waiting for the DOH to submit the list of passengers who were on the same flight as the patient from Dubai to trace passengers who may be from Quezon City.

The patient, a 29-year-old male real estate agent, was tested on January 7 upon arrival from Dubai through Emirates Flight No. EK 332 and thereafter stayed at a hotel as part of protocol.

The day after, it was confirmed he was COVID-19 positive. 

His sample was sent to the Philippine Genome Center. On the night of January 13, the city government and the city health department were informed that he has the so-called United Kingdom variant.

Since January 8, he has been staying at a facility where he remains up to this day for treatment.

He left the Philippines on December 27 on a business trip to Dubai  with one companion. His female companion tested negative upon arrival.

The patient and his companion tested negative before leaving the Philippines, and tested negative as well upon arrival in Dubai.

As an added precautionary measure, the patient’s  immediate household contacts have been brought to an isolation facility where they were also tested.

The CESU also initiated heightened surveillance in the community of the resident to determine the presence of clustered cases.

“We have to remain cautious and  vigilant to avert the spread of this new variant. What is important is we take care of the resident, and make sure we don’t sow panic in the community,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Belmonte also stressed the need to intensify practicing minimum health standards and report all symptoms immediately, following the confirmation of the new variant in the city.

DOH recommends inclusion of UAE in travel ban following detection of COVID-19 UK variant in Phl

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Experts are looking into how the 29-year-old real estate agent who returned from a business trip in Dubai contracted the coronavirus disease UK variant.

What’s confirmed, according to the Department of Health (DOH), was that the man departed from the Philippines negative of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and arrived in Dubai negative of the virus as well.

“On December 25, the couple had their RT-PCR test done here in the country and it yielded negative results. They went to Dubai and upon entry to Dubai they were swabbed again and the results were also negative,” explained Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The man and his partner returned to the Philippines on January 7 without showing any symptoms of the disease.

Experts are currently examining the possible origin of the UK variant detected in his samples.

“Maraming factors that we need to consider like the number of days from the time that they left the Philippines until they reached Dubai. Ano ba ang naging activities sa Dubai? We were provided with this information by the individual himself who tested positive for this variant. Pinag-aaralan pa iyan,” Vergeire said.

Following this, the DOH submitted its recommendation to the Office of the President to include the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the list of countries with existing travel ban to intensify border control and curb the possible spread of the new COVID-19 variant in the country.

“We are taking proactive stance. Iyon po ang rekomendasyon ng ating mga eksperto para we can buy time. Ito po ang sinasabi natin so that we can analyze the case well and that they determine if there are still other individuals who are affected by this variant and also we can prepare our system para kung may makita pang tayong iba o kaya ay magtataas ang kaso – we are ready,” Vergeire noted.

The DOH said around 58 percent of the man’s close contacts have been reached, while the others who still cannot be contacted may have provided a wrong number or refused to accept their call.

The patient is now in isolation and is being treated for pneumonia. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

PH detects COVID-19 UK variant

Maris Federez   •   January 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) officially confirmed the detection of the B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) in the country.

This, after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results, according to a DOH press release Wednesday (January 13) following strengthened biosurveillance and border control efforts of the two agencies.

The advisory said the patient is a male resident of Quezon City who departed for Dubai on December 27, 2020 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines last January 7, 2021 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

After the positive was released, the patient was referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for whole genome sequencing.

He was also accompanied by his female partner during his trip, but she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival. She, however, is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.

The DOH said the two had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City.

The health department immediately conducted contact tracing, in close coordination with the QC government. Contact tracers reported that the initially identified contacts are asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine.

The DOH said that they are continually working closely with the QC LGU to ensure that timely and effective measures are in place to mitigate transmission.

The agency has also secured the flight manifest of Emirates Flight No. EK 332 and contact tracing of other passengers is now underway.

Health authorities advise those who were aboard the said flight to get in touch with their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

Meanwhile, the health department said that it will intensify the weekly genomic biosurveillance among incoming passengers, local cases, re-infected patients, and those with reported clustering of cases.

The DOH said it has also coordinated with the Department of Interior and Local Government for the expansion of contact tracing to include third-generation close contacts for known B.1.1.7 cases. All close contacts of confirmed B.1.1.7 cases shall also undergo strict 14-day facility-based quarantine, the advisory said.

The DOH is reiterating its call to national government agencies, local government units and the public for stricter observance of the minimum public health standards and stricter implementation of quarantine protocols to further mitigate the risk of acquiring the virus and slow down possible mutations.

DOH denies report that a new COVID-19 variant has been detected in Metro Manila

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has clarified circulating reports on social media that the new variant of SARS-COV-2 which causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was detected in Metro Manila.

In an advisory issued Monday (January 11), the DOH, in collaboration with the Philippine Genome Center, maintained that there is still no new variant of COVID-19 virus detected in any of the positive samples tested.

Thus, the Health Department calls on the public to refrain from disseminating unverified information which only serve to cause panic and confusion.

The DOH stressed that whether or not a new variant is detected it is still best to observe the minimum health standards being the best defense against COVID-19 and to lower the rate of infection. 

It is also the best measure in lowering the rate of infection and reducing the risk of viral mutation.

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