By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the detection of the first case of B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 (UK) variant in the country.

The DOH announced that the Philippine Genome Center confirmed the detection of the UK variant in the Philippines after samples from a Filipino who returned home from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.

The male patient with the new strain of Covid-19 is a resident of Quezon City who flew to Dubai on Dec. 27 for business purposes and arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 7 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

The patient was with his partner who tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.

Both of the returning Filipinos had no exposure to a confirmed case prior to their departure to Dubai nor had any travel activities outside Quezon City (QC). Immediate contact tracing was done in close coordination with the QC government, and the initially identified contacts are asymptomatic and currently under strict home quarantine. The DOH continues to work closely with the QC LGU to ensure timely and effective measures are in place to mitigate transmission.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he hoped the new variant would not be “more dangerous and toxic” than the original strain.

Earlier this week, the Philippine government, represented by Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Serum Institute of India (SII) and Faberco Life Sciences, Inc., have signed a Term Sheet to secure the supply of 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covovax, which will be available starting third quarter of this year.

“This is a significant milestone in relations between India and the Philippines. It shows that we don’t have to look far beyond Philippine shores to find friends who are willing to help each other out,” Kishore Hemlani, Founder of Faberco Life Sciences Inc., SII’s Philippine partner, said after the signing with Sec. Galvez.

“The vaccine will be used to vaccinate 15 million vulnerable and poor Filipinos. The vaccine is stable at 2°C to 8°C, the standard temperature that is within the existing cold chain system in the Philippines, thus allowing its distribution to the remotest barangays,” said Faberco Life Sciences Medical Director Dr. Luningning Villa.