More samples needed to check presence of COVID-19 variant in PH: DOST

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2021 12:32 AM

A police officer flashes a signage with safety reminders along a crowded Ylaya Street in Divisoria, Manila on Dec. 3, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Philippine experts would need more samples from COVID-19 patients to check whether the mutated variant of the virus has already entered the country, the Department of Science and Technology said Friday.

“Ang sabi nga sa Philippine Genome Center, maganda sana kung makaka-700 sana kami ng mga samples,” Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena said during a public briefing.

The Philippine Genome Center has so far tested 350 samples taken from travelers coming from countries that have earlier reported the COVID-19 variant. So far, none have tested positive for the mutated virus, according to authorities.

A Filipina worker earlier tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant, more than a week after she arrived in Hong Kong. 

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Dela Pena noted however that the Filipina was not infected with the virus by the time she boarded the plane in Manila.

The country's inter-agency COVID-19 task force earlier created a technical working group of experts to monitor and identify new COVID-19 variants and to suggest new policies to the government.

“Naka-outline na ang mga gagawin para ma-minimize ang possibility na magkaroon ng variants na 'yan makapasok dito sa atin,” Dela Pena said.

“On the part of DOST, ang aming talagang tinitiyak ay magkaroon ng enough na pondo ang Philippine Genome Center para tuloy-tuloy ang pag-a-analyze doon," he added.

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