The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) on Wednesday night confirmed the detection of the new coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom in the country following samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.
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In a statement, DOH identified the patient as 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.
The patient, who was swabbed and quarantined in a hotel upon arrival, yielded a positive result and was immediately referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for whole-genome sequencing.
DOH added that the patient was also accompanied by his female partner during his trip, but she tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 upon arrival. The female is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.
“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 (QC),” the Health ministry said.
The DOH also said contact tracing for other passengers was underway after it secured the flight manifest.
“Meanwhile, weekly genomic biosurveillance among incoming passengers, local cases, re-infected patients, and those with reported clustering of cases will be intensified,” the department added.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the DOH stressed that the virus’s mode of transmission has not changed.
“This means that the Minimum Public Health Standards remain to be the effective measure against the spread of the disease,” it said.
“Local Government Units are also urged to be extra vigilant and ensure strict implementation of existing quarantine and isolation protocols.”