- A traveler who came back to Hong Kong from the Philippines was found positive for the UK variant of COVID-19
- The patient is identified as a 30-year-old female who flew back to Hong Kong on board flight PR300 on December 22
- Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said they are now coordinating with HK authorities to seek more details
A passenger who arrived in Hong Kong from the Philippines tested positive for the UK variant of COVID-19, which is reported to be more contagious.
Local reports quote Hong Kong Center for Health Protection Communicable Disease Branch head Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan as saying that the 30-year-old female Hong Kong resident arrived via Philippine Airlines flight PR300 last December 22.
Aside from the traveler from the Philippines, they also detected the new strain from patients who arrived from France and the UK.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire told Rappler that they are already retrieving the flight manifest from PR300 and coordinating with authorities from Hong Kong.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier explained that while the new strain has higher transmissibility, there is no indication yet that the virus is causing more severe disease “or if this has any implications on the development of new vaccines against COVID.”
The Philippines has imposed a travel ban on 20 foreign countries (UK, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and Spain) late December to prevent the spread of the new strain of COVID-19.
The DOH also reminded the public to observe the minimum public health standards (MPHS) such as regular hand washing, observing cough or sneeze etiquette, proper wearing of masks and face shields, physical distancing, and ensuring air circulation.
“The observance of MPHS is key to keeping infection rates low, as the chances of mutation are lower when fewer people get infected. Moreover, it is universally effective for any type of COVID-19 mutation,” they said.