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Here’s Why the World Is Alarmed by the UK COVID-19 Variant

The UK variant is now in the Philippines, the health department confirmed.

Just last night, January 13, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that the UK COVID-19 variant has now been detected in the Philippines.

According to the health department, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) found the genome sequence of the new variant of the novel coronavirus in a sample obtained from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Read: New COVID-19 Variants: Here’s What You Need to Know)

“The patient was swabbed and quarantined in a hotel upon arrival. The positive test result was released the following day and thecge patient was referred to a quarantine facility in Quezon City while his samples were sent to PGC for whole-genome sequencing,” DOH said.

The patient, who is a male from Quezon City, is said to have flown to UAE on December 27 for business purposes and returned to the Philippines on January 7. His female partner was tested as well, and her results came back negative. They are both still under quarantine and close monitoring of the QC health department.

Global Health Concern

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A patient is taken from an ambulance by staff wearing PPE equipment at the Royal Free Hospital, London, last Jan. 11, 2021. (Photo from Tolga Akmen—AFP / Getty Images / Time Magazine)

The new coronavirus variant has become a cause for concern for health experts around the world. According to UK health officials, they have “high” confidence that the new variant is more transmissible than the original variant of the novel coronavirus. Based on their research, the UK variant has mutations that increase the virus’s ability to infect perfectly healthy cells, thus making it relatively easier to spread.

But how fast is the infection exactly? The variant was first detected in September last year, and by November, around 25% of the new cases were already from the new variant. By December, it was already at 67%.

“It is really too early to tell… but from what we see so far it is growing very quickly, it is growing faster than [a previous variant] ever grew, but it is important to keep an eye on this,” said Dr. Erik Volz from the Imperial College London. (Read: How do you eat healthy while in quarantine? We asked a nutritionist-dietician!)

As of January 8, 45 countries have already reported cases infected with the new variant–possibly 46 now, with the Philippines also marking the first confirmed case.

Stay Home, Save Lives

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A London Transport famous red bus passing a COVID-19 sign during England’s third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, London, the U.K., Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Photo from AP Photo / Daily Sabah)

Despite quarantine restrictions now easing up in the Philippines, everyone is still advised to adhere to all health protocols — especially because of the alarming infection rates involving the new UK variant. Listed below are some measures that we must all remember in this of a pandemic.

  • Go out only for the essentials (groceries, paying bills, etc.).
  • Refrain from meeting with other people who are not from your household.
  • Wear a mask (covering the nose and mouth) and face shield whenever you are outside.
  • Maintain at least a one-foot distance from others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly. The ideal length of time is 20 seconds.
  • Bring a hand sanitizer or alcohol wherever you go to clean your hands when you touch surfaces or money.

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