New COVID-19 variant not detected in contacts of OFW in Hong Kong â DOH
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.

New COVID-19 variant not detected in contacts of OFW in Hong Kong — DOH

( - January 14, 2021 - 4:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — The new and more contagious variant of COVID-19 was not detected among the close contacts of the overseas Filipina worker in Hong Kong, the Department of Health said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said some of the contacts of the 30-year-old worker tested positive for COVID-19 but they had low viral load.

“Whole genome sequencing was done and it showed the UK variant was not detected among all of the contacts of this Hong Kong case,” said Vergeire, who also heads the technical working group on coronavirus variants.

“However given their exposure, we give more precedence to the initial results which showed all these cases were positive,” she said, adding the contacts are still under “strict” facility-based quarantine and monitoring.  

Last week, Hong Kong authorities reported that a resident who returned from Manila on December 22 tested positive for the more contagious variant that was first seen in the United Kingdom.

She tested positive 11 days after arriving in Hong Kong. It is still unclear where the woman caught the virus. 

The domestic worker from the northern province of Cagayan is now in stable condition in Hong Kong. 

The SARS-CoV-3 variant called B117 is found to be between 30% and 70% more contagious than other forms of the virus. There is no evidence that the variant is more deadly than others.

The DOH on Wednesday confirmed the detection of the rapidly transmissible variant: a 29-year-old man who arrived from United Arab Emirates on January 7. The patient and his companion are undergoing quarantine as authorities trace the other passengers of Emirates flight EK332.

Experts warned that an increase in the transmission of the variant will result in more people getting infected and sick, which can strain the country's health system anew. The development comes as authorities fear a post-holiday surge in COVID-19.

Health officials have repeatedly stressed that wearing face masks and shields, physical distancing and proper hygiene are still the best defenses against the spread of COVID-19. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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