ILOILO CITY–Despite recent reports coming out that a Hong Kong resident who tested positive for the new United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had a travel history to the Philippines only about two weeks ago, the Department of Health announced today that the country continues to be free from the more infective variant of the virus.
This was based on a review conducted by the DOH and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) of the whole genome sequencing of 305 samples taken from positive coronavirus patients that were admitted to local hospitals from November and December as well as inbound travelers who tested positive for COVID-19 after their arrival in the country.
“The UK variant was not detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions,” the joint DOH-PGC statement averred.
Yesterday, it was reported by Hong Kong health authorities that the new UK variant of the dreaded virus had been detected from someone who arrived in the Chinese territory from the Philippines on December 22, 2020.
Meanwhile, DOH Undersecretary and designated COVID-19 spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they are presently coordinating with the International Health Regulations focal point in Hong Kong to get additional updates on the report.
She added that they do not discount the possibility that she could have been infected by the UK variant of COVID-19 after her arrival in Hong Kong from the Philippines as yesterday completes the 14 days–the whole incubation period of the virus–since she left the country.
In a virtual press briefing yesterday, Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of the communicable diseases branch of the Hong Kong Health Department, said that the patient, identified as Case 9003, is a 30-year old female.
It is not known, however, if she is a Hong Kong national visiting the Philippines or a Filipino overseas worker on employment in the former British colony./(N. Glenn Aragon/INews)