3 contacts of OFW carrying Indian COVID-19 variant positive for virus: DOH

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2021 01:05 PM | Updated as of May 15 2021 01:19 PM

MANILA - Three of the close contacts of an overseas Filipino worker found to be carrying the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant that first emerged in virus-ravaged India have tested positive for COVID-19, the health department said Saturday. 

In a public press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said samples from of the contacts have been forwarded for genome sequencing to identify the variant. 

The Department of Health is still looking for the 2 other contacts of the returned migrant worker from the United Arab Emirates who tested positive for the virus.

Among the 32 traced close contacts of the repatriated worker, 28 are negative for the disease, while authorities are still checking the data of one other tested contact. 

The health department previously said they pegged at 35 the close contacts of the returned Filipino. 

The DOH had earlier confirmed that two overseas Filipino workers— one from the UAE and another from Oman— had tested positive for the COVID-19 variant from India after return to the country. They are the first two cases of the variant in the country. 

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Meanwhile, three of the six close contacts of the passenger from Oman tested negative, while they are still looking for three other contacts. 

"So nakita na ho namin ang manifesto ng flight details, at katulad ng nai-report namin for case 1 who is the 37-year-old male, na tatlo po sa kanila ay nakita na po namin sa database, ay PCR-negative. Ang tatlo po hinahanap namin kasi hindi po nagma-match ang pangalan nila sa manifesto,” Vergeire said. 

(We saw in the manifesto of flight details, as we reported, for case 1 who is the 37-year-old male [from Oman], three of his close contacts are negative. We are still locating three others.)

Vergeire previously said close contacts of COVID-positive air passengers include people seated either 4 seats in front, 4 seats behind, or 4 seats on either side of the patient.

The Philippines has expanded its travel ban to include the United Arab Emirates and Oman to deter the entry of the Indian variant, which is more infectious compared to other COVID-19 mutations.

The travel ban will last until May 31, with an estimate of 5,000 OFWs affected. 

India has been ravaged by a virus surge, with thousands dying daily and total cases now topping 24 million. 

Two Filipinos have died of the disease in India.