2nd OFW from Dubai monitored for possible UK Covid-19 variant

·3 min read

THE Department of Health (DOH) 7, on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, said it is monitoring a 28-year-old female overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who arrived in Cebu from Dubai on Thursday, Jan. 21.

She is the third person to be monitored in Central Visayas for possibly carrying the B.1.1.7 Sars-CoV-2 (United Kingdom) variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said the OFW yielded a positive test result in her RT-PCR (Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. Her cycle threshold, the viral load of a sample of an individual, qualified for genomic sequencing.

Loreche said the swab sample of the patient, who is asymptomatic, will be sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) on Monday, Jan. 25.

The female OFW joins two others — a 35-year-old Filipino-American from the United States and a 54-year-old male OFW from Dubai — who also qualified for genomic sequencing at the PGC.

Their samples were sent to the PGC on Jan. 7 and Jan. 20, respectively. The DOH 7 has yet to receive their test results. Both of them are also asymptomatic.

Loreche said even without the results from the PGC, an asymptomatic patient can be clinically discharged after completing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period and if he or she remains asymptomatic within the same period as these individuals cannot be infectious anymore.

Loreche said there is no need for alarm or panic over virus mutations as variants are “bound to occur” when the virus tries to adapt in a person’s body.

She said the UK variant is just one of three identified variants. The other two originated from Brazil and South Africa.

“Eventually, in the coming weeks, we will be seeing a lot more of this, but variance does not necessarily mean that it will cause more severe disease. It’s more of increased transmissibility,” she said.

Loreche said variance will have an impact on testing capacity, especially since molecular laboratories in the region can only detect Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

She also said they need to be selective in sending samples to the PGC for genomic sequencing testing as it is costly.

To qualify, the traveler must come from a restricted country due to a coronavirus variant; the individual must test positive for Sars-CoV-2 upon arrival and during the second swabbing five days later; and the positive test result cycle threshold must be 30 or below.

“Right now, there is no cause for alarm. Our cause for alarm is actually the rising number of cases,” she said.

As of Saturday, Jan. 23, Central Visayas had a total of 2,410 active cases. Of these, 845 were in Cebu City, 106 in Lapu-Lapu City and 205 in Mandaue City.

Negros Oriental had 707 active cases; Cebu Province, 523; Bohol, 21; and Siquijor, three.

“We really have to be vigilant. We need to be compliant, responsible and disciplined enough to implement our public health measures,” Loreche said. (WBS)