The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that at least 38 of the close contacts of the 13 UK COVID-19 variant cases in Bontoc, Mountain Province tested positive for COVID-19.
“Iyong isang taga-Bontoc, he tested negative [for COVID-19] upon arrival last December 13. December 14 nakauwi siya sa kanila. Noong December 25, nagkaroon sila ng pagdiriwang dahil Pasko. Tapos December 26, they had a ritual as part of their beliefs. December 29 na siya nagkaroon ng sintomas,” DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online briefing.
The DOH official added that some 144 close contacts have been identified and 116 of them had already undergone swab tests.
The UK variant case in La Trinidad, Benguet also infected four other people and most of them were household members.
The Bontoc municipality has placed five municipalities on lockdown over cases of the new UK COVID-19 variant,
The DOH has said that the new variant is more infectious but more studies are needed to determine if it’s more fatal than any other COVID-19 mutations.
On Saturday, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine director Dr. Celia Carlos said it is “premature” to conclude that there is local transmission following the confirmation of 16 more cases of the new variant in an online briefing.
The RITM official said that there are certain criteria that must be met before a local transmission is declared but so far investigation is ongoing.
“Considering that investigation is ongoing it may be premature to say whether there’s an ongoing community transmission,” Carlos said.
“Right now there is no evidence of that dahil mayroon tayong isang cluster lang at alam natin na magkaka-related sila and we have to find one person na common source,” Dr. Edsel Salvana, a DOH adviser said.
The DOH said that there are now a total of 17 UK COVID-19 cases in the country. Twelve of the cases came from 2 barangays in Bontoc, Mountain Province, two among those who had taken a flight from Lebanon, and one each from Benguet and Laguna.
The first recorded case of the UK variant was recorded last January 7 from a 27 year-old male who arrived from Dubai from a business trip.