Nearly a year since the first detection of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case in the country, the latest variant known as B117 has been detected, health officials confirmed on Wednesday.
In a report made by Rappler on Wednesday, January 13, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed the presence of the United Kingdom (UK) COVID-19 variant in the country after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.
The DOH identified the case as a 29-year-old male resident of Kamuning, Quezon City, who departed for Dubai on December 27 for business purposes and came back to the Philippines last January 7 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.
During his trip, the case was also accompanied by his female partner, who tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival. The female is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring, according to the DOH.
“Both of the returning Filipinos had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City,” the DOH said.
“Immediate contact tracing was done in close coordination with the QC government, and the initially identified contacts are asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine,” it added.
In a recorded cabinet meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte aired on Wednesday night, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the case, who is a real estate agent, visited malls, groceries, and tourist sites in Dubai together with his partner.
Following the detection, the DOH assured the public that a contact tracing is now underway. It has secured the flight manifest of the flight in question, and other passengers are currently contacted. At the same time, it also advised those who were aboard the flight Emirates Flight No. EK 332 to get in touch with their respective barangay health response teams.
AT A GLANCE: First case of UK COVID-19 variant in the Philippines:
- A 29-year-old male, a real estate agent, residing in Kamuning, Quezon City
- Departed for Dubai on December 27, 2020, for a business trip accompanied by a female partner
- Visited malls, groceries, and tourist sites in Dubai with his partner
- Arrived in the Philippines on January 7 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332
- Female partner tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival, currently under strict quarantine, nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City
- Neither of them had exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai, nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City
- Contact tracing of passengers aboard the flight is now underway
The UK variant known as B117 – believed to be more infectious than the original variant of the virus – was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020. In November, around a quarter of the reported COVID-19 cases in the country were found to be of the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The DOH also said last week that aside from the UK variant, it was also monitoring other variants of the virus found in South Africa (501Y.V2) and Malaysia (A701B).
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