MANILA - The man confirmed to be the country's first case of the new COVID-19 variant has tested negative for the coronavirus, the Quezon City local government said Friday.
In a statement, Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU), said the patient, a 29-year-old resident of the city, will next be assessed to see if he may return to his community and reunite with his family.
The patient will be "under monitoring" for "at least two weeks."
His girlfriend, who had traveled with him, and his mother also tested positive, along with 12 others of his contacts, but validation is still pending on what variant of the coronavirus they had contracted.
"The Quezon City government announces that the resident who tested positive for the UK COVID-19 variant has tested negative, based on his latest swab test," the LGU said.
"The doctors at the quarantine facility where he is staying will make a final assessment before he is allowed to reunite with his family and reintegrate with the community. However, he will remain under health monitoring for at least two weeks," it added.
The patient, who traveled to Dubai on December 27 and returned to the Philippines on January 7, was immediately quarantined, following standard protocol for international arrivals.
After testing positive, his specimen was sent to the Philippine Genome Center, which later on found that he carried the UK variant.
Local authorities previously said the patient had experienced symptoms of pneumonia, but was declared asymptomatic days later.
The Department of Health, in a separate statement, confirmed that the patient tested negative but says he would have to undergo a "thorough assessment" such as a chest x-ray, since the patient was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.
"Yes the index case tested negative already, but a thorough assessment still has to be done, such as chest x-ray, because he was diagnosed with pneumonia at the start. Protocol is the same, but it has to be ensured that he will still be monitored by the LGU," said DOH.
As the patient is set to eventually return to his community, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte warned against discriminating against patients who had contracted the new COVID-19 variant.
"Sa panahon ngayon, huwag na nating bigyang puwang ang diskriminasyon dahil wala itong naitutulong at nakakabigat pa sa sitwasyon," Belmonte said.
(In times like these let’s not make space for discrimination because this doesn’t help and it even makes things more tense.)
-- With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News