3 travelers from S. Africa fully vaccinated, no COVID symptoms: DOH

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 11:05 AM | Updated as of Dec 03 2021 03:05 PM

Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on November 29, 2021 amid the IATF ban on 14 countries affected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Passengers coming from or have been to the countries under the list within the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the country amid the threat of the new variant of COVID-19. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on November 29, 2021 amid the IATF ban on 14 countries affected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Passengers coming from or have been to the countries under the list within the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the country amid the threat of the new variant of COVID-19. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — Three travelers from South Africa who were placed under quarantine are fully vaccinated and are not showing COVID-19 symptoms, the Department of Health said Thursday.

The Bureau of Quarantine earlier said the travelers quarantined in Negros Occidental had arrived before the country imposed a travel ban on South Africa following the classification of Omicron as a variant of concern.

"They were immediately isolated once it was reported they were from South Africa. They are fully vaccinated, they do not have signs and symptoms. They were just isolated because they were from South Africa," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC's Headstart.

"Accordingly, the Bureau of Quarantine already said that when they released the 3 individuals, they were cleared by the Bureau of Quarantine. So extra measures are being done in Negros [Occidental] when they were again isolated."

The confirmatory swab test results of the travelers have yet to be released, Vergeire added.

Some 64 Filipinos who returned from red list countries prior to their classification are also being monitored by the quarantine bureau, according to Vergeire.

The DOH on Friday clarified that the 3 individuals quarantined in Negros Occidental were foreign nationals.

"The 3 South Africans who arrived in Negros Occidental last Nov. 25 and 26 are all fully vaccinated and are all currently asymptomatic. They are undergoing home quarantine in a rented house and underwent reswabbing on Dec. 1 with pending test results," Vergeire told reporters.

The Philippines has yet to detect the Omicron variant, the DOH spokesperson earlier said.

"Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron, we are still processing (the) next batch of whole genome sequences," she told reporters Wednesday.

The Philippine Genome Center can "already do immediate processing of sequencing and immediately issue out the results in about 24-30 hours," said Vergeire.

The Philippines has so far banned travelers from 7 African nations (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique) and 7 European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy) until Dec. 15.

The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has some 50 mutations, including those in the spike protein region which may affect vaccine efficacy and lead to increased transmissibility, according to Vergeire.

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