MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday pinned hope that the new strain of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) first reported in the United Kingdom (UK) would not be “more dangerous and toxic” than the original variant.
This, after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the detection of the first case of B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant, also known as the UK variant, in the Philippines.
Duterte also expressed hope that the “new monster” that was able to enter the country would not cause more harm to Filipinos.
“Nag-mutate, may bagong monster na naman (There was a mutation [of Covid-19] and it’s a new monster). And I prayed to God really na sana hindi ito (that it is not) more dangerous, more toxic than the original Covid,” he said.
Duterte’s statement came on the same day the DOH announced that the Philippine Genome Center confirmed the detection of the UK variant in the Philippines after samples from a Filipino who returned home from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.
The male patient with the new strain of Covid-19 is a resident of Quezon City who flew to Dubai on Dec. 27 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 7 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.
The patient was with his partner who tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.
Immediate contact tracing
The new Covid-19 variant reported in the European nation is more infectious than the original coronavirus strain.
However, there is no evidence yet that the new strain is deadlier than the original variant of Covid-19.
In a bid to prevent the further spread of the UK variant in the country, Duterte directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to trace the people who may have been exposed to the couple.
“So importante ito kung sino ‘yung mga taong kinausap nila pagdating nila. It’s very important kung sinu-sino ‘yung mga tao. Kaya ilalabas itong tracing (It’s important to identify the close contacts. It is very important to know the people with possible exposure to the couple. So, there will be contact tracing),” he said.
He added that close contacts would be tested immediately “for their own good.”
“Ngayong gabi, pupuntahan nila (Tonight, they will contact them to) make sure para (so) we can take steps to isolate, sequester, and maybe treat them na hindi na sana mapasa sa iba (so it would no longer be transmitted to other people),” he said.
On Wednesday, the Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit said it has conducted contact tracing on the male patient’s close contacts upon his arrival.
Among those who have had exposure to the patient are health workers at the isolation facility where he was brought, and the barangay health emergency response team that brought him from the hotel to the quarantine facility. (PNA)