18 more UK variant cases detected in PHL; total now at 62

(Eagle News)–Eighteen more UK variant cases have been found in the country.

The Department of Health, the Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health said in a joint statement that the additional cases were found in the seventh batch of 757 samples sequenced by the PGC on Feb. 18.

The additional cases brings the total UK variant cases in the Philippines to 62.

The statement said an additional sample from Region 7 belonging to the last genome sequencing batch and 80 Region 7 samples sequenced in the seventh batch were  found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.

The statement said 13 of the UK variant cases or B.1.1.7 cases were Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who entered the country between January 3 to 27, while three were from the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Health authorities said they were still verifying whether the remaining two cases were local cases or ROFs.

All of the 13 ROF cases are now tagged as recovered.

Of the three from CAR, two were both 12-year-old males connected to the original cluster from Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province, while one was a 41-year-old female connected to the first La Trinidad cluster.

The statement said all three cases are now tagged as recovered and all close contacts have completed quarantine “following immediate contact tracing and isolation to swiftly contain transmission among the Bontoc and La Trinidad clusters.”

Additional details are still being gathered about the two remaining additional UK variant cases.

“Meanwhile, the Center for Health Development Central Visayas has been notified of the additional cases found with mutations and investigation is now underway to aid in curbing transmission,” the DOH said.

It said case investigation and contact tracing for these new detections have also been jointly initiated by the DOH through the Bureau of Quarantine, Centers for Health Development, and regional epidemiology and surveillance units (RESU), in close coordination with concerned LGUs, local health offices, local epidemiology and surveillance units, and law enforcement authorities.

“The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH are preparing to submit these new findings to the World Health Organization and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) to aid in the ongoing global effort to track and study new and emerging genomic changes in the SARS-COV-2 virus, which vaccine manufacturers may use to to recalibrate vaccines and ensure efficacy against COVID-19,” it added.

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