Amid Omicron threat, DOH says locating 8 travelers from South Africa

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2021 01:25 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 - The Department of Health on Monday said it has yet to locate 8 more travelers from South Africa who arrived between Nov. 15 and 29, but efforts for contact tracing continue, Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The agency has so far located 80 travelers, of which 77 were returning Filipinos and 3 were foreign nationals, she said. The verification of 165 more travelers is ongoing, she added.

All of the 4 travelers re-tested for COVID-19, comprised of 1 returning Filipino and 3 foreign nationals, were negative.

"Out of all of those samples tested in the latest genome sequencing run, wala pong na-detect na Omicron variant, most of the detections were that of the Delta variant," she said.

Meanwhile, the genome sequencing result of a traveler from South Africa who tested positive for COVID-19 might be released by Wednesday, DOH added.

The traveler had arrived in the country between Nov. 15 and 29, Vergeire earlier said. Two other travelers from Burkina Faso and Egypt who arrived during the same period had tested positive for COVID-19.

The samples of the 3 travelers are included among samples of 12 returning overseas Filipinos, according to Vergeire.

"Itong mga tinetest natin meron tayong 12 samples ng returning overseas Filipinos na nira-run natin ngayon sa smaller machine ng Philippine Genome Center for a faster processing time. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon o kaya Wednesday morning makuha natin agad ang mga resultang ito, kasama nito ang South African na nagpositibo," she told reporters Monday.

(We have 12 samples of returning overseas Filipinos which we are running in a smaller machine of the Philippine Genome Center for a faster processing time. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning, we will have the results, including those of the South African national who tested positive.)

In its latest genome sequencing of 629 samples, 571 or 90.78 percent were found to be Delta variant, 1 was positive for the Beta variant, and 1 was detected to be Alpha variant, according to Vergeire.

Delta variant, first detected in India, remains to be dominant virus type in the Philippines, comprising 7,848 or 40.35 percent of 19,305 samples with lineages, based on DOH data. 

It is followed by 3,630 Beta variant cases and 3,168 Alpha variant cases. The Beta variant was first reported in South Africa, while the Alpha variant was first detected in the UK.

Government cannot "100 percent control or prevent the entry of these variants" but can only delay it, Vergeire said, citing the Delta variant.

"We were able to delay the entry of the Delta variant for at least a month at makikita yan sa mga datos natin (that can be seen in our data)," she said.

"Sa isang buwan na nakapagdelay tayo, nakapagprepare tayo ng ating sistema yun ang ginagawa natin ngayon."

(In the month that we delayed it, we were able to prepare our healthcare system and that's what we're doing now.)

The Philippines remains low risk for coronavirus cases, with "low" COVID-19 bed occupancy and intensive care unit utilization at 21.26 percent and 25.74 percent.
 

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