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No UK COVID-19 variant detected in close contacts of OFW in Hong Kong – DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, January 14, said the United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19 was not detected among close contacts of the Filipina domestic worker in Hong Kong who tested positive for the more infectious variant of SARS-CoV-2.

However, they tested positive for COVID-19, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing on Thursday morning.

"Contacts tested positive on PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing but most had CT (cycle threshold) more than 30, interpreted as detected with low viral load," she said.

"On whole-genome sequencing, the UK variant was not detected among contacts in NCR and Cagayan," Vergeire added.

Genomic sequencing is the process of analyzing the virus sample taken from a diagnosed patient and comparing it with other cases to see whether those who tested positive for COVID-19 have the new variant.

Vergeire said that due to their exposure to the case, they gave "more precedence to their initial results which showed all cases were positive."

The close contacts remain under strict quarantine and under close monitoring.

Meanwhile, the Filipina domestic worker is now in stable condition.

The 30-year-old domestic worker from Salona, Cagayan was the first known Filipino case of the UK variant of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. She returned from Manila on December 22.

The new COVID-19 variant known as B117 – believed to be more contagious than the original strain of the novel coronavirus – was first detected in the United Kingdom in September.

On Wednesday night, the DOH confirmed the presence of the UK COVID-19 variant in the country after samples from a 29-year-old Filipino male who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on January 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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