GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Health authorities here are monitoring possible new infections related to the area’s first case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-United Kingdom (UK) variant confirmed early this week.
Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting head of the City Health Office, said Thursday they sent samples for genome sequencing from a new COVID-19 case that emerged from among the close contacts of the 58-year-old male returning resident from Barangay San Isidro who had tested positive with the UK variant.
She said they are still waiting for the test results of 22 other close contacts who were subjected to Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
UP-PGC confirmed Monday that a patient here was infected with the B.1.17 or the UK mutant strain of COVID-19. The patient was previously identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case in his workplace and reportedly had exposure in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
Oco said they managed to track down the patient after finding an unusual number of new infections from his identified close contacts.
She said they were able to detect at least 18 confirmed cases from among the identified first to fourth-level close contacts.
The contact-tracing activities were conducted after the patient, an authorized person outside of residence or APOR, tested positive for COVID-19 a week after arriving in the city on March 21.
Oco said eight came out positive out of the 11 first-level close contacts, four from the 26 second-level contacts, five from the 17 in the third level, and one from the fourth level.
“Our surveillance team saw a certain value that was crucial, and that triggered us to send the specimen of the index patient for genome sequencing,” she said in a press conference.
Upon the confirmation of the case, she said they immediately subjected the index case and all identified close contacts to RT-PCR testing.
She said four of the first level contacts tested positive anew for COVID-19 and two in the second level, although these were considered possible remnants of the virus usually found among clinically recovered patients.
Six test results are still pending for the second level and 16 for the third level, with one yielding negative, she said.
City Administrator Arnel Zapatos assured that the city government is on top of the situation and has implemented the necessary interventions to contain the spread of the new variant, which he described as more contagious based on the recorded infection rate from the index case.
He urged residents to continually comply with the minimum health standards to prevent another surge of cases as what has been happening in the National Capital Region and other areas in the country.
“We need the cooperation of everyone so we can keep our economy open and defend our modified community quarantine status,” he said.
As of Wednesday night, the active COVID-19 cases in the city have dropped to 69, with about half currently asymptomatic, as more patients continue to recover.
Since March last year, the confirmed infections in the area have so far reached a total of 2,276, with 89 related deaths and 2,118 recoveries. (With a report from Richelyn Gubalani/PNA)
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