DOH says tracing 182 more travelers from South Africa

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2021 12:59 PM | Updated as of Dec 03 2021 03:49 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) - The Department of Health said Friday it was tracking some 182 more travelers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines between Nov. 15 and 29 as the threat of the Omicron variant persists.

Some 71 out of 253 arrivals from South Africa have been traced, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. Of the total figure, 249 are Filipinos and 4 are foreign nationals, she said.

Sixty-seven travelers have yet to undergo retesting while 3 have tested negative for the coronavirus, she added.

"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," she told reporters.

The 3 foreign nationals' swab test results have returned negative for coronavirus, the DOH said in a statement later Friday.

Local governments, the Bureau of Quarantine, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government have been directed to locate arrivals from red list countries between Nov. 19 to 26, according to Vergeire.

The travelers are required to complete a 14-day home quarantine and undergo retesting if they have any symptoms, the DOH spokesperson said.

The Philippines has placed Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, and Switzerland under the red list effective Nov. 28 until Dec. 15.

The Omicron or B.1.1.529 variant was first detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong earlier this month, according to DOH. It has 50 mutations, including 30 in the spike protein region, which "may cause increased transmissibility and immune evasion," Vergeire said.

"Further studies are necessary to better understand the transmissibility, infectivity, and effect on vaccine efficacy of the B.1.1.529 variant," she said.

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