(PNA file photo) 

MANILA – The 38 close contacts of patients infected with the United Kingdom (UK) SARS-CoV-2 variant in Bontoc, Mountain Province, and La Trinidad, Benguet, have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a health official reported Monday.

SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19.

In an online media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also reported that the 144 close contacts of the 12 patients in Bontoc have been identified but they are “not positive for the UK variant”.

Dito sa contact tracing na ito, meron tayong nakita na additional na 34 positive pa (In the contact tracing, 34 more patients tested positive) but they were not positive for the UK variant,” she said.

Vergeire noted that six of the 34 patients have already tested negative for the UK variant while the remaining 28 are awaiting genome sequencing results.

Genomic sequencing is the process where samples taken from patients are compared to check for the presence of the UK variant.

Vergeire also reported that 97 contacts of a patient from La Trinidad in Benguet have also been traced by the authorities.

Dito naka-identify tayo na meron nang nagpositibo na kasama niya sa loob ng bahay: nanay, tatay, kapatid, at lola. Apat ang nagpositibo sa close contacts niya and the rest, negatibo po sila (Here we have identified four contacts in the household who tested positive: the patient’s mother, father, sibling, and grandmother. Four tested positive and the rest tested negative),” she said.

The DOH is still waiting for the genome sequencing result of the specimens from the four close contacts who tested positive to know if they have the UK variant.

So far, the country has logged at least 17 cases of the variant.

Since the UK variant is more transmissible, Vergeire urged the local government units to strengthen the quarantine protocols in their areas.

“It is to ensure that those who are endorsed to them for quarantine and isolation should comply with the 14-day (quarantine),” she said.

At 4 p.m. Monday, the DOH reported the country's tally of Covid-19 cases has reached 514,996; the death toll, 10,292; and total number of recoveries, 475,422. (PNA