Filipino with new variant now negative for COVID-19; monitoring to continue
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.

Filipino with new variant now negative for COVID-19; monitoring to continue

(Philstar.com) - January 22, 2021 - 12:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s first confirmed case of the more infectious COVID-19 variant has tested negative for the virus but he will remain under monitoring for two more weeks, the Quezon City government said Friday.

“The doctors at the quarantine facility where he is staying will make a final assessment before he is allowed to reunite with his family and reintegrate with the community,” the city government said in a statement.

“However, he will remain under health monitoring for at least two weeks,” it added.

The index case, a 29-year-old real estate agent, arrived in the Philippines on January 7 from a business trip in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Authorities were able to trace 213 contacts of the patient, which include the passengers who were on the same Emirates flight EK332 as him, his household members and healthcare workers who attended to him.

Fifteen contacts were found to be positive for COVID-19, including his girlfriend who accompanied him in his overseas trip but tested negative upon arrival. The case’s mother also tested positive.

Their samples were sent to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to check the presence of the more contagious variant.

In a briefing Friday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the genome sequencing results of the positive contacts will be out by Saturday.

The country’s coronavirus task force approved the recommendation requiring travelers returning from jurisdictions covered by travel restrictions to take a second test five days after their arrival in the country.

The government is closing its borders to foreigners coming from 34 countries until the end of the month in a bid to keep new COVID-19 variants out.

Preliminary estimates find the B117 or the one first detected in the United Kingdom between 30% and 70% more contagious than other forms of the virus. But there is no evidence that the variant is more deadly than others.

Experts warned that an increase in the transmission of the new variant will lead to more people getting infected and sick, which can overwhelm the country's health system anew.  — Gaea Katreea Cabico

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