DOH-7 monitors another OFW for possible UK Covid variant case

CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas is now monitoring the health condition of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) for a possible third case of the B.1.1.7 SARS-Cov-2 (United Kingdom) variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the region.

In a message to local media on Saturday, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 chief pathologist and Covid-19 task force spokesperson, said they will send the sample specimen extracted from the OFW for genome sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) in Quezon City.

“The (genome) sample will be sent (to PGC) on Monday,” she said.

Loreche said the patient is a 28-year-old female OFW who arrived in Cebu from Dubai last Thursday.

The patient, she said, was placed under monitoring after being tested positive for Covid-19. Her husband and baby are placed under close monitoring.

Although asymptomatic like the other two patients, the OFW who is a resident of Naga City in the south of Cebu is placed under quarantine to prevent further contagion

The sample will be subjected to genomic sequencing for SARS-CoV-2.

The first case whose virus specimen was sent to the PGC on Jan. 7 is a 35-year-old male who arrived from the United States while the second is a 54-year-old male who arrived from Dubai, United Arab Emirates whose sample was also sent on Jan. 20.

The DOH-7 has yet to receive the result of genomic sequencing of the first two cases, Loreche said.

The three cases, she said, passed the criteria set to qualify for sending genome samples to the PGC.

All of them have travel history to countries covered by travel restrictions set by Manila and have tested positive for Covid-19 upon entering the country.

She said the value of viral load from samples taken from the three patients has passed the cycle threshold required for genome sequencing.

Genome sequencing will provide data necessary to uncover patterns of virus circulation and reveal the distribution of the virus’ lineage and estimate when it is introduced or imported into the country. It will also assist medical front-liners in contact tracing effort.

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