THIRTEEN close contacts of the first case of the United Kingdom (UK) variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines have tested positive for the novel virus, the Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday.
In a statement, the DOH said that 10 co-passengers in Emirates Flight EK332, the patient’s mother, his girlfriend, and a healthcare worker who attended to the patient have all tested positive for COVID-19.
“Eight co-passengers aboard Emirates Flight EK332 tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival here in the country. Moreover, the DOH confirms that five close contacts of the first confirmed UK variant case in the country also tested positive for the disease,” the DOH said.
The DOH said the eight co-passengers, who are all Filipinos, have been isolated and quarantined upon arrival. They have been scheduled for re-swabbing after their positive samples yielded a Cycle Threshold (CT) value greater than 30, which indicates low viral load.
“All 8 co-passengers are in stable condition and will remain under strict monitoring while completing isolation and while waiting for results of re-swabbing and genome sequencing,” said the DOH.
On the other hand, the DOH said two more co-passengers and the patient’s girlfriend have also tested positive for COVID-19 after testing negative upon their arrival.
The patient’s mother as well as a healthcare worker from Quezon City, who attended to the index case, also tested positive for COVID-19.
The DOH said the samples from all 5 close contacts have already been sent to the PGC for sequencing in order to determine if they are also infected with the UK variant.
“All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring,” said the DOH.
Earlier, a 29-year old male from Quezon City tested positive for COVID-19, as well as for the UK variant, upon his arrival from Dubai.
The index case was found to have as close contacts 159 co-passengers, 49 healthcare workers, and 5 household members.
Of the 213 total close contacts, the DOH said four remain untraced.
Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province has been placed under a 10-day enhanced community quarantine, the highest quarantine status in the country, due to increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
City mayor Jefferson Soriano said they implemented the ECQ after securing the approval of the regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases.
“The RIATF approved, concurred our request for ECQ as endorsed by the governor,” said Soriano, referring to Gov. Manuel Mamba. “We are at high risk, that is the present situation,” he said.
Soriano said the city will request the IATF for a five-day extension if the situation will not improve during the 10-day ECQ. As of yesterday, Soriano said the city has 235 COVID-19 active cases.
“We are at the critical point, we are already within the high-risk level, that’s why we are qualified for ECQ,” said Soriano.
Soriano said that while the city is under ECQ, restaurants will still be allowed to operate at 50 percent work force capacity. There will be no dine-in operations and the restaurants can only offer take-out and delivery services. – With Victor Reyes