60 samples from Central Visayas test negative for coronavirus UK variant

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THE Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas, on Saturday, February 13, 2021, said 60 of the 70 samples it sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for genomic sequencing on February 6 tested negative for the more infectious UK B.1.1.7 variant.

1. Remaining 10 samples not tested yet

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-Central Visayas spokesperson, said the 10 remaining samples have not yet been tested due to some technicalities.

“It is still possible that we have the UK variant, but is not yet confirmed as the samples collected — although these are from the targeted population as I have already stated before, that there is the possibility that we didn’t gather the sample from one infected with the UK variant,” she said.

She said it is also possible that there is a local variant that has yet to be identified.

2. More samples sent to the genome center

Loreche said they submitted additional samples on Friday, February 12, to PGC.

These include 60 samples (community samples) from the DOH-Central Visayas Cebu TB Reference Laboratory Molecular Facility for Covid Testing, six from returning overseas Filipino workers, one from a Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center patient and 24 samples (community samples) from the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital.

3. A need for bio-surveillance

Loreche said there was a need to conduct bio-surveillance for new variants because of the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in Cebu.

The first batch of samples they sent to PGC for genomic sequencing came from various individuals.

“Some patients came from just one area. Some were children who contracted the disease. Some had recovered from the disease only to test positive again,” Loreche said in Cebuano.

4. Why there was a rise in Covid-19 cases in Cebu

The DOH-Central Visayas started collecting the first batch of samples from patients from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and Cebu Province from January 30 to February 2.

She believes the factors causing the rise in cases include the easing of restrictions on people’s movement and authorities’ aggressive contact tracing, extraction and isolation of positive patients.

5. Only 1 confirmed case of the new variant in Cebu

Cebu has only one confirmed case of the UK B.1.1.7 variant, the 54-year-old male returning overseas Filipino with a residence in Talisay City, Cebu who had returned to the Philippines in January. He recovered from the virus on February 2 after treatment at a public hospital in Cebu.