Close contacts of HK-based Pinay with new COVID variant quarantined, swabbed

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2021 03:35 PM

Video courtesy of DOH

MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday said it has already quarantined and tested the close contacts of the Filipina domestic helper who tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant in Hong Kong.

“Napuntahan na itong mga close contacts. Nakuhanan na ng swab for RT-PCR at itong specimen para sa genome sequencing ay nagawa na,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during virtual briefing.

(We were able to visit her close contacts. They were already swabbed for RT-PCR and for genome sequencing.)

RT-PCR refers is the most accurate test for COVID-19. 

Vergeire said the samples have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) where it will be tested for COVID-19 and then sequenced to check if they have the more transmissible variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

“They are currently quarantined and being monitored, itong close contacts sa Solana, Cagayan,” the health official said. 

Vergeire said they also contact traced in Manila where the domestic helper went before taking a flight to Hong Kong.

“Meron syang manning agency dito. Lahat ng naging contact sya natunton naman po natin. They were all swabbed,” the official said.

(She has a manning agency here. All of her contacts were traced and they were all swabbed.)

All of the contacts are now on quarantine. 

Vergeire said they even started looking into the patient’s other contacts upon her arrival in the Philippines. It is not clear yet when the domestic helper returned to the Philippines. What the DOH knows is that she left Cagayan Valley region on December 17 and left Metro Manila on December 22. She only tested positive for COVID-19 on January 2 after undergoing quarantine in Hong Kong.

Vergeire said the other passengers on the flight to Hong Kong are also being contact traced. This included another 30-year-old woman from Nueva Vizcaya. 

“She is also a contact that’s why we are doing the tracing kaya po yun kasama sa ginagawa natin and they have to be quarantined as well,” she said, referring to the other passenger’s family.

So far, the Philippines has yet to detect the new variant inside its borders.