Boy in Davao with COVID-19 UK variant has no travel history

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 February) – The first confirmed case of the UK variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Davao City, a 10-year old boy, has not travelled outside the city while his family has no known exposure to foreigners, Davao City Health Office (CHO) head Dr. Ashley Lopez said.

In an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Tuesday, Lopez said that based on the case investigation, local health authorities could not establish how the child got infected with B117, considered a more infectious mutated strain.

“Based on our history taken from the family, they have no history of travel. In fact, this child has not travelled ever to other places… They have no contacts with any UK variant suspect and have not interacted with foreigners. We cannot establish the history of his exposure to a probable UK variant case,” he said.

He said investigation is still ongoing to determine the child’s possible exposure.

Lopez said the child’s known index case was his diabetic grandmother, who stayed for 16 days in a private hospital and was transferred to a temporary treatment and monitoring facility at the University of the Philippines-Mindanao.

The child, who tested positive for COVID-19 last January 18, was asymptomatic and underwent a 10-day isolation at the City North Inn. He was sent home in Panacan where he was quarantined for four more days, he said.

The official said the child and his grandmother had fully recovered.

He said the child’s parents tested negative of COVID-19.

He did not say if the specimen from the grandmother was among the 1,900 samples sent for genome sequencing at the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center.

Citing the experts from the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiological Bureau, Lopez said the child could not have contracted the virus’s mutated strain without exposure to a patient who was infected with the UK variant.

He surmised that the virus could have mutated.

“Probably, this patient had developed a mutation because we know that the virus mutates every two weeks or every month. We just don’t know but maybe it’s because of this,” he said.

Aside from the child, Davao de Oro also confirmed last February 13 its first two UK variant cases – a 54-year old male and a 33-year old female.

Lopez said the local government put the family under 14-day home quarantine after test results from the UP-PGC came out.

He said the barbershop owned by the child’s father has been put on lockdown while the clients are currently being traced but added that there’s “very low risk for outside transmission” as the family in Panacan and his relatives in Toril are cooperating with the local health authorities.

“For now, I don’t see any possibility of outside transmission because based on our risk assessment in Panacan and Toril, there is no increasing number of cases. The issue of this UK variant is that its capability of transmission is twice but when we reviewed… we have no more cases in Toril while Panacan went from 50 cases to less than 20,” he said.

As of February 17, DOH-Davao reported 86 new cases, bringing the total to 19,154, with 2,201 active ones, 16,161 recoveries, and 792 deaths in the region.

Of the total, Davao City, which reported the highest COVID-19 incidence in Mindanao, tallied 12,581 cases, with 1,107 active ones, 10,866 recoveries, and 608 deaths.

Davao de Oro reported 1,055 cases, Davao del Norte 2,801, Davao del Sur 1,304, Davao Occidental 211, and Davao Oriental 1,202. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)