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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 nineteen (19) 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 44. The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH further report that no other variant of concern was detected, and 60 samples from Region 7 fitting sequencing criteria were negative for the B.1.1.7 variant.

The 19 additional cases were part of the sixth batch of 718 samples sequenced by the UP-PGC on February 8, 2021. The sixth batch of samples were sourced from all regions, except BARMM, and were selected to ensure representation of each region as well as areas where spikes in cases have been reported.

Three (3) of the 19 cases have indicated current addresses in Region XI: one 10 year-old male, one 54 year-old female, and one 33 year-old male. All three cases currently do not have any known link to each other. These cases are currently active with mild symptoms.

Two (2) cases have indicated addresses in CALABARZON. One is a recovered 20 year-old female who was swabbed last December 22, 2020 and has unknown exposure.  The other case is a 76 year-old female with exposure to a positive case last January 21, and is currently experiencing mild symptoms.

Eight (8) are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) tested at different ROF catchment laboratories. Four (4) are males while 4 are females, all aged between 28 and 53 years old. Six (6) of the additional ROF cases are currently being managed in ROF isolation facilities, while two cases have been tagged as recovered.

Lastly, six (6) cases are currently being verified if these are local cases or Returning Overseas Filipinos. Case investigation and contact tracing have been initiated to verify reported information and trace possible sources of infection. The DOH shall release additional information once available.

Case investigation and contact tracing shall also immediately be initiated by the DOH through the Centers for Health Development and regional epidemiology and surveillance units (RESU), in close coordination with concerned LGU local health offices, local epidemiology and surveillance units, and law enforcement.

The Department of Health acknowledges the UP-PGC, UP-NIH, RESUs, and laboratories for their invaluable assistance in the conduct of biosurveillance, and the National Bureau of Investigation for their support in locating reported cases and their contacts.

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