Experts want more samples from patients with COVID-19 to check if the disease's new, more contagious variant has entered the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology said on Friday.
The Philippine Genome Center, which recently said the new variant is not yet in the Philippines, had tested 350 samples, said Science Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña.
"Sabi nga sa Philippine Genome Center, maganda sana kung nakaka-700 man lang kami na samples," he said in a public briefing.
(The Philippine Genome Center said it is good if we have at least 700 samples.)
A Filipina recently tested positive for the new variant, 8 days after she arrived in Hong Kong from Manila. It is still uncertain where the woman had contracted the virus.
"Hindi malaman pa kung 'yan ba ay sa Hong Kong ba nakuha o dito kaya nagko-contact tracing sa lahat. Pati iyong mga nasa unahan niya sa eroplano at nasa likod, tini-trace talaga," said Dela Peña.
(It is not yet determined whether she got that in Hong Kong or here, so all those who had contact with her are being traced. Even those who were seated in front or behind her on the plane are being traced.)
The Philippines has restricted the entry of foreigners from several territories that reported the new COVI-19 variant first detected in the UK.
The variant includes a genetic mutation in the "spike" protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of COVID-19.
Aside from the UK variant, authorities are also monitoring 2 other variants from Malaysia and South Africa.
Watch part of the briefing here.
Video courtesy of PTV