The Department of Health (DOH) announced that the five close contacts of the 29-year-old Filipino male who tested positive for the new UK variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have been quarantined and are scheduled to be tested.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire revealed this in an online forum a day after the Philippines confirmed its first reported case of the more infectious UK variant of Covid-19. The patient, who lives in Quezon City with his mother, girlfriend and two siblings, tested positive after arriving in the country from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Ite-test pa lang sila [mga close contact] pero wala po silang sintomas,” Vergeire said.

The male Filipino and his girlfriend visited the UAE last December on board flight Emirates EK 335 and returned to the Philippines on board flight Emirates 332.

The returning flight had 159 passengers, and authorities have already contacted 58% or 92 of them. Only 52 people responded. 

Vergeire said that those passengers who did not respond either had unattended phones, numbers cannot be reached, wrong numbers or rejected the calls of contact tracers.

“The DOH is encouraging passengers to actively reach out to public health authorities for contact tracing,” Vergeire said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said close contacts up to third degree will be included by the contact tracing efforts of health authorities. 

The DOH has already advised the banning of people from the UAE as well as 30 other countries with reported cases of the new UK variant of the coronavirus. Ronald dela Cruz