SUSTAINED BIOSURVEILLANCE DETECTS 8 ADDITIONAL B.1.1.7 CASES IN THE COUNTRY

Press Release | 5 February 2021

Following the sustained biosurveillance efforts of the government, the Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) confirm the detection of eight (8) additional COVID-19 cases positive for the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant). This brings the total B.1.1.7 variant cases in the country to 25. The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH further report that no other variant of concern has been detected.

Three (3) of the 8 additional cases are from Bontoc, Mountain Province. Of the 3 cases, two (2) females aged 25 and 54 were identified as close contacts of a previously reported B.1.1.7 variant case who is part of the Bontoc cluster. The third case is a 31-year-old male whose link to the Bontoc cluster is still being verified. To date, the 54-year-old female has already recovered, while the remaining two are active cases and are currently being managed.

Meanwhile, two (2) additional cases are from La Trinidad, Benguet. One of the 2 cases is a 15-year-old female and relative of the previously identified B.1.1.7 variant case in La Trinidad. She is currently asymptomatic and in isolation as part of the management of contacts of the first B.1.1.7 variant case identified in La Trinidad. The other case is an 84-year-old male who had no known history of travel nor contact with any B.1.1.7 variant case and is part of a separate cluster of cases in the city. The said case was recorded to have died last January 24, 2021.

Moreover, two (2) of the additional B.1.1.7 variant cases are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF). The first ROF is a 29-year-old female who arrived from UAE on January 7, 2021 aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 659. Meanwhile, the 2nd ROF is a 54-year-old male with a reported local address in Talisay, Cebu. Both ROF cases have already recovered.

The eighth additional case is a 35-year-old male from Liloan, Cebu whose sample was collected last January 17. He is tagged as an active case with mild disease and is currently being managed. The exposure and travel history of this case is also being verified.

The Department of Health, through its Centers for Health Development, together with the concerned local government units, shall conduct immediate case investigation and intensified contact tracing and back tracing to identify the sources of infection for the cases with no known link to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases. Biosurveillance activities shall likewise be sustained and the succeeding whole genome sequencing activities are expected to determine the extent of transmission in areas where B.1.1.7 variant cases have been detected and to provide better representation from all regions.