The Philippines now has 15 reported cases of the UK coronavirus variant after exposure to a 29-year-old Filipino who arrived in the country on January 7 with his girlfriend on a business trip from the United Arab Emirates, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Wednesday.

The patient’s mother, girlfriend, and eight co-passengers, as well as a healthcare worker who transported the index case in an isolation facility, have all tested positive for the UK Covid-19 variant, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a press briefing. 

Meanwhile, two more co-passengers of the patient also tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) is currently studying the samples of all the first patient’s close contacts to know if they are still positive with the new variant. 

Meanwhile, all the eight passengers are now in stable condition and under strict supervision while undergoing isolation. They will be re-swabbed on Thursday since their first results showed a Cycle Threshold value greater than 30 which means that the patients have low viral load and need to re-swab for sequencing.

 “Contact tracing also showed that the eight cases had no close contact when they arrived, and infection and prevention control practices were strictly observed by personnel who attended to the said cases,” the DOH said. Ronald dela Cruz