Missing personal information hampers contact tracing of travelers from South Africa - DOH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2021 10:08 AM

Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on Nov. 29, 2021 amid the IATF ban on 14 countries affected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Passengers arrive at the NAIA Terminal 1 on Nov. 29, 2021 amid the IATF ban on 14 countries affected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA—Philippine authorities have yet to locate 8 travelers who arrived in the Philippines from South Africa after they provided incorrect or incomplete personal information, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

The Philippines is tracking dozens of travelers who arrived in the country between Nov. 15 to 29 amid the threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

"Ang naging challenge natin dito ay mali-mali po 'yung detalye sa kanilang personal information sheet," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told TeleRadyo.

(The challenge is that the details they provided in their personal information sheet are inaccurate.)

South Africa is among the countries that were placed on the Philippines' red list amid the outbreak of the more transmissible Omicron variant.

The health official said some travelers provided incomplete contact numbers or addresses. Meanwhile, 2 others are not answering phone calls, she added.

Vergeire said the DOH is coordinating with different government agencies and localities to find the whereabouts of the travelers.

"We already flagged the Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of Transportation regarding this matter so that they can coordinate with the specific agencies of these individuals," she said.

The DOH is urging the travelers to immediately coordinate with their regional health offices for COVID-19 testing.

In the interview, Vergeire said the Philippines had yet to detect the Omicron variant as many countries have already reported local cases.

"Wala pa po tayong nade-detect na (We still haven't detected the) Omicron variant. Most of the detections were still Delta variant," she said.

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, government figures show.

According to DOH data, the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, remains to be dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines, comprising 7,848 or 40.35 percent of 19,305 samples with lineages.

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.

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