11 more Bontoc contacts test positive for COVID-19

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
11 more Bontoc contacts test positive for COVID-19
This brings the total number of close contacts who contracted the disease to 45.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Eleven more close contacts of the 12 cases of the United Kingdom variant of coronavirus in Bontoc town in Mountain Province were found positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

This brings the total number of close contacts who contracted the disease to 45.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, two of the 45 infected contacts werenegative for the new variant when their swab samples underwent genome sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center. The DOH is waiting for genome sequencing results of the 43 other swab specimens.

She also said the number of close contacts was reduced to 369 from the 615 earlier reported after duplicate names in the DOH data were compared with that of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“We reconciled our data and we were able to get a line list. There are 369 unique individuals identified as close contracts who are positive in polymerase chain reaction tests,” Vergeire told reporters.

Of the 369, only 233 have so far been swab tested and 135 of them yielded negative results for COVID-19. The results of the 41 swab tests remain pending.

Also, the DOH and CAR authorities still have not established the source of infection in Bontoc where the agency had declared a local transmission of the UK variant.

Initially, it was suspected that the index case was a traveler from the UK who returned to Bontoc in December. This individual had COVID-19 but was negative for the new variant.

Vergeire noted that CAR authorities are also looking at eight overseas Filipino workers who also went to their respective homes in Bontoc.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said contact tracing and link analyses conducted on the UK variant cases in Bontoc and La Trinidad towns bared they had links to some Baguio City residents, including four COVID-19 patients.

Magalong said an ongoing analysis of the 12 cases showed there were three residents classified as close contacts and four COVID-19 patients from Baguio who had links to some of the 12 UK variant cases in Bontoc.

He added that contact tracing done for the UK variant case in La Trinidad revealed that the patient’s father is a taxi driver who may have been plying the city’s route. The patient also had 83 co-workers, more than nine of whom are Baguio residents.

Ruby Constantino, DOH-CAR regional director, said the region was among the first areas in the country with detected UK variant, seven of whom are males and five are females. Three are aged below 18 years and another three are above 60.

The La Trinidad patient was described as a “local case” having had no travel history outside the country. The patient is currently admitted in a Benguet temporary treatment and monitoring facility.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the case of the Filipina migrant worker in Hong Kong who got infected with  theUK variant is now considered closed. Her close contacts have all been traced and their tests showed negative results.

As for the swab samples collected from Cebu City and Cebu province, the DOH said these yielded negative for the UK variant as well. – Artemio Dumlao

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