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Close Contacts of First Philippine COVID Variant Case Test Positive Too

More people test positive.
by Arianne Merez
Just now
Photo/s: shutterstock

Thirteen people who had close contact with the Philippines' first confirmed case of the more contagious COVID-19 virus variant have tested positive for the disease too, the Department of Health said Wednesday as it called for strict observance of minimum health standards.

Five close contacts and eight fellow passengers of the first confirmed case -- a 29-year-old male resident of  Kamuning, Quezon City who returned to the Philippines via Emirates Flight No. EK 332 last Jan. 7 -- have tested positive for the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, known as B.1.1.7.

Among those who tested positive are the patient's girlfriend, his mom, a health worker in Quezon City who attended to his case, and two other fellow passengers who initially tested negative for the virus.


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The eight other fellow passengers are all Filipino citizens who were quarantined upon arrival, the health department said, noting that they were immediately transferred to isolation facilities after testing positive for COVID-19.

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"All close contacts are currently isolated and under strict monitoring," the DOH said.

The DOH initially announced that the first case's girlfriend tested negative for the virus but a repeat test showed otherwise.

On Wednesday, the DOH said contact tracing showed that the eight fellow passengers had no close contact when they arrived in the Philippines, and "infection and prevention control practices were strictly observed by personnel who attended to the said cases."

While the Philippines has not drastically changed any of its protocols for pandemic response despite the new virus variant, it sought to rehire 15,000 contact tracers whose contracts expired at the end of 2020.

Health authorities have also repeatedly reminded the public to strictly observe minimum health standards such as the wearing of face masks and face shields as the new variant spreading in the UK and parts of the globe, is more contagious but not exactly more lethal.

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The Philippines has also extended its travel ban from several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, that have reported cases of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2.


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