The Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) on Sunday confirmed that 18 additional UK variant cases of COVID-19 have been detected.
In a statement, the DOH said the new cases brought the total of UK variant cases in the country to 62.
The 18 cases were found in the 7th batch of 757 samples sequenced by the UP-PGC on February 18.
Additionally, a sample from Region 7 belonging to the last (6th) genome sequencing batch was found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.
Two of the 80 Region 7 samples sequenced in the 7th batch were also found to have both mutations, bringing the total to 34.
According to the DOH, 13 of the B.1.1.7 cases are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who entered the country between January 3 and 27.
“All of these cases are now tagged as recovered and the DOH is currently investigating compliance to isolation protocols and the contact tracing done for these ROFs,” the Health Department said.
Meanwhile, three other cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region. Two cases, both 12 year old males, were linked to the original cluster of cases from Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province.
The third case from the CAR was a 41-year-old female who was connected to the first La Trinidad cluster.
“ All three cases are now tagged as recovered and all close contacts have completed quarantine following immediate contact tracing and isolation to swiftly contain transmission among the Bontoc and La Trinidad clusters,” DOH said.
"The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH are preparing to submit there new findings to the Workd Health Organization and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) to aid in the ongoing global effort to track and study new and emergin genomic changes in teh SARS-COV-2 virus, which vaccine manufacturers may use to recalibrate vaccines and ensure efficacy against COVID-19," it added.
Meanwhile, health officials were still verifying if the remaining two new UK variant cases were local cases or ROFs.
Case investigation and contact tracing were being conducted in connection with the new cases. Local government units and other concerned agencies have been notified of the additional cases to avoid further spread of the disease. —Joviland Rita/KG/DVM/BM, GMA News