Experts will detect new virus variants in individuals who will test positive for COVID-19, Malacañang said Friday after the Philippines confirmed its first case of the more transmissible virus variant first reported in the United Kingdom.
Aside from the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols, whole-genome sequencing will also be done on samples from those who will test positive for COVID-19, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The genome is often described as the body's instruction manual, and whole-genome sequencing involves effectively reading the billions of DNA bases in an individual to help researchers understand if new virus variants have emerged.
The Department of Health, University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center, and the UP National Institutes of Health will do the genome sequiencing, he said.
The Philippines on Wednesday confirmed its first case of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, known as B.1.1.7., which was detected in a Filipino who arrived from the UAE on Jan. 7, the DOH said.
The patient is a male resident of Kamuning, Quezon City who departed for Dubai on Dec. 27, 2020 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines last Jan. 7, 2021.
To prevent the spread of the more transmissible virus variant, Roque said contact tracing protocols would now include third-generation contacts for known new variant cases.
"All identified close contacts are required to undergo a strict facility-based 14-day quarantine while remaining contacts from the flight manifest shall be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols," he said.
On Friday, the Philippines extended its travel ban to several countries that have confirmed cases of the new virus variant until Jan. 31.
-with a reportr from Agence France-Presse