One UK variant case linked to COVID-19 cluster in MRT-3, DOH says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 15) — The Department of Health on Monday said one confirmed case of the UK variant can be traced to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) depot last month.

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire gave updates on the six cases reported last week that were still undergoing verification. These six confirmed cases of the more transmissible variant are either residing in Metro Manila, stayed for long periods in the capital region, or undergoing isolation in Luzon.

The case linked to the infections in the MRT is a 46-year-old woman undergoing home quarantine in Pasay City. She was the mother of a personnel at the MRT-3 depot, where a clustering of cases was recorded. She tested positive for the coronavirus infection on Jan. 25.

"Connected po siya doon sa cluster ng MRT cases natin kasi ang anak niya was from the MRT, nagtatrabaho doon," she said in a media briefing.

[Translation: She is connected to the MRT cases. Her child worked in the MRT.]

The train depot recorded at least 36 infections last Jan. 27. It remains unclear if their samples were sent for genome sequencing to check if they have been infected with the more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

Another variant case is a 47-year-old woman from Las Piñas who arrived from Morocco last Jan. 12. Vergeire said she completed her 10-day isolation, but her second swab test showed a positive result, so she was advised to extend her isolation at home.

The other patient is a 49-year-old male from Rizal. Health officials are checking if he returned from an overseas trip.

Another one is a 37-year-old male who is a resident of Bukidnon, but spent a long time in Metro Manila as part of his training before getting tested and turning out positive on Jan. 25.

A 25-year-old woman from Dasmariñas, Cavite is undergoing isolation in Region 3 after finding out she had COVID-19 on Jan. 31. Meanwhile, another 20-year-old patient who took a swab test in Metro Manila is under isolation in the Cordillera Region.

On Feb. 12, the Department of Health reported 19 new cases of the more transmissible variant. There are now a total of 44 cases of the B.1.17 variant in the country. However, Vergeire said there is still not enough evidence to prove there is community transmission.