Contacts of HK Pinay with new COVID-19 variant test positive, but no UK mutation

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 11:37 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2021 03:54 PM

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MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said that the contacts of the Filipina domestic helper in Hong Kong who tested positive for COVID-19 showed no trace of the the new, more more transmissible UK variant.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing that the Filipina had some contacts in the Philippines who tested positive for COVID-19 but they had low viral load, based on their test results.

“Whole genome sequencing was done and it showed that the UK variant was not detected in all of the contacts of this Hong Kong case,” she said.

But because the contacts tested positive for COVID-19, they are under strict facility quarantine and close monitoring. 

The viral load of a patient can be shown through the cycle threshold (CT) value of a PCR test. The CT value, which also refers to the calculated viral load, refers to the number of times a sample was amplified to detect the virus. 

A lower CT value meant that it only took a few cycles for the sample to be amplified before the virus was detected, which means the viral load is higher.

Hong Kong’s announcement that a traveler from Manila tested positive for COVID-19 raised the possibility that the new COVID-19 variant was already in the Philippines.

The traveler, who was identified as a 30-year-old domestic helper, is said to be in stable condition although she was admitted to a hospital.

It was also later revealed that she tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week after she arrived in Hong Kong and while in quarantine. It is still unclear if she was infected in the Philippines or in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, the Philippines announced that the new COVID-19 variant has been detected in the country in a male real estate agent who arrived on January 7 from Dubai. The patient was immediately swabbed and quarantined upon arrival in Manila.


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