MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday that the eight co-passengers of the male patient infected with the United Kingdom (UK) variant of SARS-CoV-2 aboard Emirates Dubai-Manila Flight EK332 tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival here in the country.
In a statement, the DOH also confirmed that five close contacts of the first confirmed UK variant case in the country also tested positive for the disease.
“The eight co-passengers are all Filipino citizens who were tested via RT-PCR and quarantined upon arrival. Upon the release of positive RT-PCR results, the said passengers were immediately transferred to isolation facilities and their samples were secured from confirming laboratories for whole genome sequencing to determine the presence of the UK variant,” the DOH said.
However, preliminary analysis showed that samples from all positive cases yielded a Cycle Threshold (CT) value greater than 30.
A CT value more than 30 indicates low viral load which requires re-swabbing to secure samples for sequencing.
The DOH said the eight co-passengers are scheduled to be swabbed before Thursday (Jan. 21).
The agency noted that the co-passengers are in stable condition and will remain under strict monitoring while completing isolation and while waiting for the results of re-swabbing.
“Contact tracing also showed that the 8 cases had no close contact when they arrived, and infection and prevention control practices were strictly observed by personnel who attended to the said cases,” it added.
The five close contacts of the patient who recently tested positive are:
● his partner, who was aboard flight EK332 but tested negative upon arrival;
● 2 other co-passengers who also initially tested negative;
● another household member; and
● a healthcare worker from Quezon City who attended to the index case.
The samples collected from the five close contacts who tested positive were sent to the University of the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing.
The DOH has yet to determine if the samples contain the UK variant.
“All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring,” the agency said. (PNA)