10 new cases of Indian variant detected
Nine of the 10 new cases of the Indian variant of COVID are crewmen of the M/V Athens Bridge.

10 new cases of Indian variant detected

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Ten more cases of B.1.617.2 or the Indian variant of COVID-19 were detected in the Philippines and nine of them are crewmembers of M/V Athens Bridge, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

In a report, the DOH said the figure was based on the latest batch of swab samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center and University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health.

“These 10 B.1.617.2 variant cases were in addition to the two cases previously reported last May 11, bringing the total to 12,” the DOH added.

One of the 10 cases is seafarer who disembarked in Belgium before flying to Manila last April 2 via Emirates airlines. The seafarer completed his isolation period last May 13.

According to DOH, the nine cases are from the 12 Filipino crew of MV Athens earlier found positive for COVID-19.

“Four of the nine B.1.617.2 cases remain admitted at a hospital in Manila and are currently in stable condition, while the other five are currently in an isolation facility,” the DOH revealed.

The three other crew with COVID-19 were not eligible for genome sequencing but they remain in an isolation facility.

The first two cases of the Indian variant in the Philippines are seafarers who flew in from Oman and the United Arab Emirates on April 10 and 19. They did not have history of travel to or a stopover in India.

The DOH also reported the detection of 13 additional cases of the B1.1.7 or the United Kingdom variant. Three of the cases are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) while 10 are local cases.

Based on the case line list, one infected individual has died while 12 have recovered.

On the other hand, seven more cases of B.1.351or the South Africa variant were found. Two of the cases are ROFs, two are local cases, while three are still being verified if they are ROF or local cases.

The DOH said that based on the case line list, two cases are still active while one has died and four have recovered.

The agency added that one more case of the P.3 variant was also sequenced. It is a local case with an address in Region IX. The DOH said the patient died last Feb. 28.

“At present, the P.3 variant is not identified as a ‘variant of concern.’ This variant is currently being investigated and information continually collected to determine its public health implication,” it added.

The DOH has urged the public to continuously follow minimum public health standards and to immediately get vaccinated when their turn comes.

“By following these measures, infection and further mutation of COVID-19 can be prevented. A low transmission rate means fewer chances for the virus to mutate,” the agency underscored.

The DOH earlier said three fellow plane passengers of ROFs from UAE diagnosed with the Indian variant of the coronavirus were found positive of the original strain of COVID-19.

“Three of them are positive. We submitted (his swab sample) for whole genome sequencing. For the two others, we are locating them,” Vergeire said.

She said they have verified 32 close contacts of the 58-year-old ROF among his fellow plane passengers.

The Philippine Genome Center and University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health perform genome sequencing to determine if an infected individual carries any of the new variants of COVID-19.

Vergeire added 28 other co-passengers tested negative for COVID-19 while one is still being verified.

The patient arrived in the country from UAE on April 19 and the genome sequencing done on his swab samples yielded the Indian variant.

On the other hand, the DOH has identified six fellow plane passengers of a 37-year-old ROF from Oman, who also got the Indian variant, as well as his close contacts.

Vergeire said they looked into the database for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and three of the six contacts were found negative for COVID-19.

“We are looking for the other three passengers because the names in the database do not match the names on the flight manifest,” she added.

Based on protocols, close contacts pertain to the passengers seated four seats in front, at the back and on the left and right side of an infected person.

According to DOH, the two ROFs did not have close contacts outside of the aircraft they had boarded in returning to the Philippines because they were put in quarantine upon arrival. The two have since recovered and are both asymptomatic.

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