700 samples ideal to determine new Covid-19 variant: DOST chief

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(PNA file photo) 

MANILA – About 700 is the ideal number of samples from patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to determine if a new variant of the virus has reached the country, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said Friday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, de la Peña said it is not hard to detect the new variant, but equipment, which is only available at the Philippine Genome Center, is needed.

"They (Philippine Genome Center) said it is better if they have 700 samples. So far, only 350 samples were tested," he said.

De la Peña also noted that all the different variants of the virus, like the one linked to the UK, can be tested through DNA sequencing.

"We (DOST) ensure that the Philippine Genome Center has enough funding for DNA analysis," he said and reiterated the desire to reach 700 samples for analysis.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced that the new Covid-19 variant has not reached the Philippines.

With this, de la Peña noted that the Filipina who tested positive for the new Covid-19 variant in Hong Kong only tested positive several days after arriving in the region.

"So we cannot say (if she had the virus here) since she tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding the flight," he said.

The DOST chief added that contact tracing is now being done by authorities. (PNA)
 

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