MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said 12 Filipino crew members of a vessel that had sailed from Indonesia tested positive for COVID-19, with 11 kept strictly aboard at a port in Albay and one under watch in Butuan after sneaking off the boat in his hometown.
DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the patients are among 20 in an all-Filipino crew of a tugboat now docked in Albay. The 8 others tested negative for the disease.
"They are now isolated in their vessel. Binabantayan sila ngayon ng Coast Guard. Walang magdi-disembark, walang makakapasok sa vessel," Vergeire said of the 11 in Albay.
(They are being monitored by the Coast Guard. No one is allowed to disembark and enter the vessel.)
"If ever somebody of them will turn symptomatic, sila ay dadalhin sa ospital na malapit kung saan sila naka-dock o naka-lagi," she said.
(If ever somebody will turn symptomatic, they will be brought to the hospital near the place where they are docked.)
Meanwhile, health officials are keeping watch of the other patient who snuck off the ship and disembarked in Butuan to go home to his family despite orders to stay aboard.
"He is now isolated. 'Yung driver ng public transport, helper at lahat ng kapamilya niya ay nai-quarantine na ng local government," she said in an online press conference.
(The driver of the public transport he rode, a helper and all his relatives have been quarantined by the local government.)
The DOH has collected 5 samples from the 11 COVID-19 patients aboard the vessel and have sent these to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to determine if they are infected with a foreign variant, Vergeire said.
The vessel's point of origin, Indonesia, is the current epicenter of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia and cases there spiked due to the more transmissible Delta variant.
Of the 35 Delta variant carriers in the Philippines, 3 died, while 24 others have recovered from the disease, according to data from the DOH.
Eight other Delta variant carriers who supposedly recovered from COVID-19, tested positive for the virus again after they underwent another RT-PCR test, the DOH said.
The Delta variant is more contagious than the original strain from Wuhan, China due to the presence of the "L452R" mutation in its spike protein.
The mutation allows the virus to infect as many as 8 people who may have "fleeting contact" with a person carrying the strain, the DOH said.
The variant has caused a catastrophic spread of the disease in India, its origin.
— report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News