Hong Kong authorities reported that a passenger from the Philippines tested positive for the new COVID-19 strain that originated from the UK.
According to Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection, the passenger onboarded Philippine Airlines flight PR300 and arrived in Hong Kong on December 22.
“[Patient] 9003 took PR300 and arrived in Hong Kong on the 22nd of December from Philippines,” Chuang said in the special administrative region’s Information Services Department’s briefing.
“The UK variant originated back in September as the people have been flying around. We anticipated that it will appear in other countries,” Chuang said.
“We found them in the France or Philippines returnees and this is anticipated. Clearly, we are implementing stringent measures… For example, quarantine for 21 days at designated hotels,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health spokesperson Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said the DOH already requested more information about the case from the Hong Kong government.
Hong Kong reports passenger from PH had new COVID-19 strain
The DOH also asked PAL for a copy of the flight manifest of PR300 on December 22.
“We have initiated coordination with the IHR Focal Point of HK to request further details,” Vergeire said.
“Also retrieving the flight manifest for the identified flight. We will be informing as soon as we get complete information,” she added.
In December 2020, Health Secretary Francisco Duque claimed that the new COVID-19 strain is not yet in the Philippines.
“We have the capability to detect this. The Philippine Genome Center, the RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine), and the UP-NIH (National Institute of Health) will be having a conference, and I am confident they will be able to give us a detailed characterization of this new variant,” Duque said.
“Pero wala po tayong ganun [rito] at hopefully hindi magkaroon,” Duque added.
However, for OCTA researcher Guido David, there is a high chance that the new COVID-19 strain is already here but not yet detected because no genome sequencing has been done in the country last month.