WITH close contacts of the first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) United Kingdom (UK) variant in the Philippines being found positive after initially testing negative, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said it is now looking to subject all arriving travelers to re-swabbing.
In a televised public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have already submitted their recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for the re-swabbing of travelers on the fifth day of their isolation.
“We have to repeat the testing on the fifth day after they have arrived, and before we release them to their LGUs (local government units),” said Vergeire.
Vergeire said the protocol is necessary because the viral load is already in full effect by the fifth day of incubation.
“This is the more appropriate timing of testing. Therefore, we can be more certain if the patient tested is really negative or positive,” said Vergeire, adding that this has become more crucial given the threat of the UK variant of COVID-19.
Under the current protocol, all arriving passengers are released from quarantine upon receiving their negative RT-PCR test results.
The recommendation of the DOH comes as the number of close contacts of the male patient infected with the UK variant of the COVID virus increased to 14.
The 29-year old male from Quezon City tested positive for COVID-19, as well as for the UK variant, upon his arrival from Dubai.
According to the DOH, another co-passenger of the index case on board Emirates Flight EK332 was found positive for COVID-19 despite testing negative upon arrival.
This means there are already four co-passengers of that were found positive during retesting, including his girlfriend.
Aside from the four, also found positive for COVID-19 upon arrival were eight co-passengers in Flight EK332.
Also found positive for COVID-19 during contact tracing were the mother of the patient, and a healthcare worker who attended to him.