The Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed the COVID-19 case detected with the new variant in Hong Kong is a 30-year-old Filipino domestic helper from Cagayan Valley who traveled to Metro Manila before boarding her flight. It assured that tracing efforts are ongoing to track if her close contacts were also infected.
It said the woman left her province last Dec. 17 and underwent quarantine in Metro Manila the next day. Based on the report provided by the Hong Kong International Health Regulations National Focal Point and the Philippines’ Centers for Health Development, DOH said she took an RT-PCR test on Dec. 19, which yielded a negative result.
She boarded a Philippine Airlines flight for Hong Kong on Dec. 22 and went straight to quarantine after arrival. She tested positive on January 2 for the COVID-19 new variant believed by the World Health Organization to have originated from southeast England. She remains in isolation and is in stable condition, the DOH said.
DOH said contact tracing is underway in Hong Kong for passengers who boarded the flight with her. It said authorities are also tracking her close contacts in Metro Manila and her province. For those who will test positive for COVID-19, their samples will be sent to experts to check for the presence of the new variant believed to be 70% more contagious.
“They have been instructed to ensure strict quarantine of identified close contacts and for samples collected from said contacts to be sent for confirmatory testing and, if samples test positive, subsequent whole genome sequencing,” the department said in a statement.
Based on 305 samples collected in November and December, the UK variant called B.1.1.7 is not yet in the Philippines.