PH detects 3rd case of omicron variant in returning Filipino from Qatar

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2021 12:34 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2021 03:15 PM

Immigration counters at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport at Terminal 2. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Immigration counters at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport at Terminal 2. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines has detected its third COVID-19 omicron case in a returning Filipino from Qatar who had travel history in Egypt, the Department of Health said Monday.

The 36-year-old unvaccinated male arrived on Nov. 28 at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport via Qatar Airways flight QR 924, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The patient, a sea-based overseas Filipino worker, has remained asymptomatic since his arrival, according to the DOH spokesperson. His sample was collected on Dec. 4, with the result released the following day, upon which he was transferred to an isolation facility.

"The case completed his isolation in Cebu before traveling back to Cavite, his hometown, where he immediately self-quarantined at home upon arrival," Vergeire told reporters.

The OFW tested negative on Sunday, Dec. 19, following a repeat RT-PCR test, Vergeire said. He is finishing his self-isolation, she added.

The DOH has identified three close contacts of the OFW, according to Vergeire.

"Na-monitor natin na home quarantine sila (They were home quarantined). We already retested them and all of them had results of negative," she said.

The agency is also verifying the test results and health status of all the passengers, she added.

The Philippines confirmed its first two omicron cases Wednesday last week in a returning Filipino and a Nigerian national. Both were asymptomatic.

Their eight close contacts also tested negative for COVID-19.

The omicron variant has 50 mutations, including 30 in the spike protein region, which might cause "increased transmissibility and immune evasion," the DOH earlier said.

It "may be over 10 times more transmissible" than the original variant or 4.2 times more transmissible than the delta variant, which is dominant in the country, said Dr. Alethea de Guzman, director of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau.

The Philippines has logged a total of 2,837,577 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Sunday, of which, 9,729 are active.

Vergeire previously said the public does not need to panic following the detection of the omicron variant.

"We just need to be cautious. We just need to be aware. We just need to be focused," she said.

"Nagdaan na po tayo lahat dito. Nung nag-delta variant po, kinaya po natin lahat na sugpuin at ipababa ang mga kaso."

(We have gone through these. When the delta variant came, we were able to manage and lower the cases.)

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