DOH: 254 travelers from S. Africa entered PHL before travel ban; of 4 tested so far, 1 tests positive for COVID

71 passengers under quarantine; samples from COVID-positive passenger to be sent to PHL Genome Center for full genome sequencing to detect type of variant

Dr. Althea de Guzman of the Department of Health’s Epidemiology Bureau/Courtesy PCOO/Screenshot of Laging Handa press briefing on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021

(Eagle News) – The Department of Health said there were 254 arrivals from South Africa who have entered the country in the last two weeks before the travel ban. Of this number, 71 have been traced, four have been tested, and one of them had already tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Althea de Guzman of the DOH’s Epidemiological Bureau said that the samples from the traveler from South Africa so far who had tested positive for COVID-19 based on his RT-PCR results would be sent to the Philippine Genome Center for “full genome sequencing.”

“Isa po rito ay nag-positibo sa RT-PCR at kinukumpleto ang kanyang isolation,” De Guzman said.

Sine-secure na natin ang kanyang sample para mapadala sa University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center at mag-undergo ng full genome sequencing,” she said on Friday, Dec. 3.

The full genome sequencing is needed to trace the kind of COVID-19 variant that the traveler has.

Courtesy DOH

In a Laging Handa press briefing on Friday, Dec. 3, De Guzman said that “the situation is continually evolving” and the country needed to further safeguard international ports of entry amid the detection of the Omicron variant in various countries.

She said that of the 254 passengers from South Africa, only 71 have been traced by the Bureau of Quarantine.

He said that the 70 international travelers are now under facility-based quarantine, while one returning Overseas Filipino Worker is under home quarantine.

“All 71 are undergoing quarantine,” De Guzman assured.

-67 of the travelers still to be tested for COVID-19-

She said 67 of these travelers have not yet been tested for COVID-19.

Our LGUs are on heightened alert to report any “case increase and clusters through active case finding.”

She said that it is very important to adhere to minimum public health standards and for the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health authorities are also doing continuing biosurveillance through whole genome sequencing to detect COVID-19 variant cases which are already in the country.

Earlier, the DOH said that considering the characteristics of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, it could be just a matter of time before a case could be detected in the country.

It is therefore very vital to tighten border control, it said.

South Africa was the first country to announce the detection of the highly contagious Omicron variant.  It is also the country with the most number of Omicron variant cases so far — at least 183 cases.

Over 30 countries have already reported Omicron variant cases.

The Philippines has revised its Red List of countries where incoming travelers are barred entry. These are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.


(Eagle News Service)