DOH-7 sends sample to Genome Center for new COVID-19 variant

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - January 11, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas has sent one specimen of a COVID-19 patient in Cebu to the Philippine Genome Center of the University of Philipppines in Manila for genetic sequencing to determine if UK-COVID variant has already reached the region.

DOH-7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said yesterday that the specimen was sent on January 7. The result is expected in four weeks.

The specimen was taken from an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) based in the United States of America who arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport on December 29, 2020.

 Loreche said the 35-year-old male OFW is now undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

USA is among the 28 travel restricted countries in the Philippines.

Moreover, Senator Risa Hontiveros called on the COVID czars and DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III to immediately release a contingency plan amid reports that the new UK COVID-19 variant could already be in the country.

 “Hindi pwedeng maging in denial sa banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant. Ang bagal na nga ng vaccine procurement natin, humina pa ang testing at laboratory operations natin. We can’t go back to square one,” said Hontiveros in a statement.

The senator said the country needs to prepare the hospitals for the worst case scenario as UK COVID-19 variant “is a game changer and if we are caught off guard many will die.”

Meanwhile, DOH-7 will finally roll out its rubella, measles and polio supplemental immunization campaign next month through the barangay health centers.

It was supposed to start in October last year, but was rescheduled this year due to the pandemic.

In the new schedule, measles-rubella vaccine will be given to regions 7, 3, 4A, 8 and the National Capital Region.

The oral polio vaccine, on the other hand, will be for regions 7, 4A, 6 and 8.

The measles-rubella vaccine will be for kids from nine months to five years-olds, while OPV will be administered to children 4 years-old and below.

DOH has assured parents that the vaccination is safe, effective and free.

Health workers have also been trained and provided with a personal protective equipment to ensure everyone’s safety from COVID-19. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, KQD (FREEMAN)

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