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The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases wants the country’s contact tracing standards ramped up over the new and more infectious coronavirus variant.

In a IATF Resolution No. 94 made available to the public on Friday, the IATF said close contacts up to the third generation of patients bearing new coronavirus strains would be required to undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine.

“[The IATF approves] the strengthening of contact tracing protocols by expanding to third-generation close contacts for known new variant cases whereby all identified close contacts must undergo strict facility-based quarantine for 14 days,” the resolution read.

The IATF has also ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to issue advisories to local government units (LGUs) for the preparation, strengthening and maintenance of quarantine facilities.

The first case of the B117 coronavirus variant was detected in the Philippines on Jan. 13: a 29-year-old Filipino who departed for Dubai on Dec. 27 and returned to the Philippines on Jan. 7.

The IATF also approved the continuation of weekly genomic biosurveillance activities of the Department of Health, Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health among incoming passengers and local cases, prioritizing hospitalized patients, re-infected patients and those in clusters.

The country has 496,646 Covid-19 cases as of Jan. 15. John Ezekiel J. Hirro