The UK variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been detected in La Trinidad, Benguet, as confirmed by the Department of Health on January 22.
In a press release, the Department of Health (DOH), the UP-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) have confirmed that the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus was detected in sixteen (16) COVID-19 cases after an intensified biosurveillance by the performed by the health authorities.
According to DOH, the lone patient from La Trinidad is considered a local case because the patient does not have known contact to any confirmed case or travel history from outside the country. The patient is currently admitted in a Benguet Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility.
The Mayor’s Office of La Trinidad has also confirmed the detection of the UK variant case and appeals to its constituents to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards.
It has also been reported earlier that twelve of the sixteen cases were detected in Bontoc, Mountain Province. With 81 percent of the newly detected cases found in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Public Information Office of Baguio City has stated that DOH is currently expediting contact tracing in the region to contain the cases of the UK variant. According to contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a team of contact tracers coming from Regions 1, 2, and 3 and the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-MEID) will be deployed to the region to perform tracing operations under his supervision.
Below is the official press release of the Department of Health:
Twelve of the 16 additional cases are from Bontoc, Mountain Province. Of these 12 cases, seven are male and five are female. 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. Investigation is also underway to identify these cases’ exposure and travel histories.Meanwhile, two other patients with the B.1.1.7 variant are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who arrived on December 29, 2020 from Lebanon, a country included in the travel restrictions due to the detection of the B.1.1.7 variant in said country. The cases were aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 8661. The first case is a 64-year old female whose indicated local address is Jaro, Iloilo City. The patient was isolated in San Juan, Metro Manila and discharged on January 9. The other is a 47-year old Filipina whose reported local address is Binangonan, Rizal and 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 and in Calamba City, Laguna; both have no known contact to any confirmed case or travel history from outside the country. One is currently admitted in a Benguet Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility, while the 23-year-old male in Laguna has been discharged after receiving a negative result on January 16.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.
Biosurveillance is in place, and we will continue to expand our 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.