13 contacts of man with new COVID-19 strain test positive


THIRTEEN people who had contact with a 29-year-old Filipino who got infected with a more contagious coronavirus strain have tested positive for the coronavirus including his girlfriend, according to Health authorities.

The girlfriend of the man, who arrived this month after a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had tested negative during the first test, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Also infected were two co-passengers who also tested negative upon arrival, a household member and a health worker from Quezon City who attended to the patient, the agency said.

DoH said samples from the five close contacts had been sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) to test if these people had been infected with the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain.

“All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring,” it said in a statement.

The Health department also confirmed that eight Filipino passengers from the same Emirates flight had tested positive upon arrival in Manila. Their samples were also sent to the PGC.

Preliminary analysis of the virus samples showed low viral load and they needed to be retested, DoH said. They had been scheduled for swabbing on Jan. 21.

“All eight  co-passengers are in stable condition and will remain under strict monitoring while completing isolation and while waiting for the results of the re-swabbing,” DoH said.

Aside from the girlfriend, the mother of the patient was also among those who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online new briefing.

She also said another contact who had tested positive was a recovering patient who got infected in December. Remnants of the virus could linger up to eight weeks, Ms. Vergeire said.

Ms. Vergeire also said authorities had yet to reach six of 213 close contacts of the patient. They were among the 159 passengers on the same flight.

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,862 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 505,939. The death toll rose by 64 to 10,042, while recoveries increased by 765 to 466,993, it said in a bulletin.

There were 28,904 active cases, 84.9% of which were mild, 7.5% did not show symptoms, 4.5% were critical, 2.6% were severe and 0.39% were moderate.

Zamboanga City reported the highest number of new cases at 206, followed by Davao City at 109, Kalinga at 102, Quezon City at 77 and Benguet at 74. 

DoH said seven duplicates had been removed from the tally, while 14 recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Two laboratories failed to submit their data on Jan. 19. About 6.9 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Jan. 18, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 96.7 million and killed 2.1 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

About 69.4 million people have recovered, it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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