Health Sec. Francisco Duque III on Saturday said a recent traveler who flew in from the United Kingdom tested positive for COVID-19, but it did not mean he was carrying the new virus variant that was discovered there.
The traveler was among 79 passengers who arrived in the Philippines between December 22 and 25.
"Umabot na po sa 79 na pasahero mula United Kingdom ang dumating sa bansa -- 72 sa NAIA at 7 ang dumating via Clark," Duque said during a televised meeting with the President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet.
"Base sa report kahapon, 59 na ang mayroon test results kung saan 53 ang negative. Ngunit may isa pong nagpositibo sa COVID at inaantabayanan natin ang 23 na natitirang resulta."
Duque added: " 'Yung testing po na ito hindi po nangangahulugan na ito na po ang new variant."
The new COVID-19 strain, which has emerged only recently, has a 50% to 70% transmission rate, which meant it was more contagious but the medical community has said it was not more virulent.
"Nagsasagawa pa po ng pagsusuri ang ating eksperto patungkol dito," Duque said.
The government has already imposed travel restrictions from the United Kingdom until the end of the year.
"Kabilang sa mga hindi makakapasok sa bansa ang lahat ng biyahero nanggaling o dumaan sa UK sa nakalipas na 14 na araw," Duque said.
"Para naman na nasa biyahe na at dumating sa Pilipinas dumating sa Pilipinas 12:01 ng December 24, sila ay dinala sa Clark upang tapusin ang 14 quarantine period anupaman ang resulta ng kanilang RP-CPR."