A group of researchers from the U.S. Army Medical Directorate–Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, the University of the Philippines Manila, and the V. Luna Medical Center recently reported 23 new SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from the Philippines, all of which were from cases of local transmission (Velasco et al., 2020). Among these samples, one was collected in early April while the rest were obtained in the months of June and July.
Majority of the Philippine submissions (18 of 23) were collected in the month of March, wherein except for one sample which clustered with isolates from Shanghai, China, all others were observed to group into clades linked to the outbreak in the cruise ship, M/V Diamond Princess, moored in Yokohama, Japan in early February 2020. Later that month, passengers and crew members of this cruise ship representing various nationalities including Filipinos, Indians, and Australians were repatriated to their home countries.
The Philippine Genome Center of the University of the Philippines was tasked to handle the sequencing of COVID-19 samples in coordination with the health workers from UP Manila National Institutes of Health, to provide our scientists with crucial scientific information to mitigate the spread of the disease.