Contacts of first Philippine case with UK variant not showing COVID-related symptoms – DOH

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — The "very close contacts" of the Philippines' first known coronavirus case with the new, more transmissible COVID-19 variant have no flu-like symptoms to date, a health official said on Thursday.

Health Department spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire, who also heads the technical working group on COVID-19 variants, said the contacts of the 29-year-old Filipino real estate agent have been swabbed for an RT-PCR test.

"We were able to identify those who are very close contacts, the close contacts in his home. And we were able to take the swabs already and these close contacts are not exhibiting symptoms as of this time," she told CNN Philippines.

The patient detected with the coronavirus variant first reported in the United Kingdom arrived in the country with his girlfriend on Jan. 7 from Dubai via Emirates Flight No. EK 332. He immediately stayed in a hotel while awaiting his test result, which came out positive the next day. The Quezon City government said he has been staying at an isolation facility since Jan. 8.

Vergeire said the man has pneumonia and is undergoing treatment.

The patient's specimen were included in the over 500 samples recently reviewed by the Philippine Genome Center to detect the presence of emerging COVID-19 variants. Vergeire said he was UK variant known as B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2.

Officials said his girlfriend, whom he was with in Dubai and during the entire trip home, tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival. She is currently under strict quarantine and monitoring.

The Department of Health urged the public to continue complying with minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and shield, proper disinfection, and physical distancing. Vergeire said the public should avoid populated areas.

"The mode of transmission is still the same, it is still droplet infection... It tends to be more transmissible but there's no evidence yet that it's more deadly. So, our measures that we are currently imploring have to be strictly complied with," Vergeire said.

The COVID-19 task force will discuss if the travel restriction on 33 countries and territories will be extended before it expires on Friday. The government restricted the entry of foreign nationals in 33 areas — but Dubai is not included in the list. It allowed the entry of Filipino citizens but they are required to complete the facility-based 14-quarantine despite negative test results.

The country has recorded 492,700 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, with 458,523 recoveries and 9,699 deaths.