MANILA — The health department on Saturday reiterated that the supposedly more infectious COVID-19 variant that first spread in the United Kingdom has not been detected in the country, saying that specimens from passengers from countries where the new strain has been found will still undergo validation.
The statement of the Department of Health came after a member of the OCTA Research Group, which has been independently releasing analyses and forecasts on pandemic data, said in an interview that the new COVID-19 strain could have already reached the Philippines after Singapore confirmed its presence.
In a statement, the DOH said the Philippine Genome Center is yet to sequence the RT-PCR specimens from people who tested positive of the disease after arriving in the country from places where the new variant had been detected.
“This is to clarify that as of Jan. 2, 2021, the Philippine Genome Center has not detected the UK variant in the country. All RT-PCR positive specimens from the countries with confirmed UK variant are to undergo genome sequencing beginning Monday, Jan. 4, 2021,” the statement read.
Taiwan detected the new COVID-19 variant in the country late December.
On Saturday, Vietnam also confirmed its first case of the new COVID-19 variant.
The variant was detected in a 44-year-old woman returning to Vietnam from Britain, who was quarantined upon arrival and was confirmed positive for the virus on Dec. 24, its health ministry said.
The Philippines earlier restricted travel from several countries that already confirmed the presence of the new COVID-19 variant locally.