MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday confirmed that the traveler who tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant days after arriving in Hong Kong is a Filipino national.
“Yes, the HK case is a Filipina domestic helper,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a message to media.
Before Thursday’s confirmation, the traveler’s nationality had not been revealed.
Because of lack of official communication from Hong Kong, the DOH had to guess who among the Philippine Airline PR300 flight passengers was the one being referred to in media reports. The traveler was initially described as female and 30 years old.
On Wednesday evening, the DOH, after confirming the identity of the traveler with Hong Kong authorities, revealed that the woman came from Cagayan Valley and underwent quarantine in Metro Manila on December 18.
She tested negative for COVID-19 a day after and was allowed to leave for Hong Kong on December 22.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, she underwent quarantine.
On Jan. 2, she was tested for COVID-19 and turned out to be positive for the new and supposedly more transmissible coronavirus variant.
Contact tracing was ongoing, the DOH said on Wednesday evening.
The Philippines said it has not yet detected the new variant in the country.
Travel restrictions were imposed on 26 countries and Hong Kong until Jan. 15 to prevent the spread of the new variant in the country.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 480,737 total COVID-19 cases, including 22,690 active infections, 9,347 fatalities, and 448,700 recoveries.