COVID-19

DOH: Travelers from South Africa who arrived in PH had no COVID-19 symptoms

Bonz Magsambol
DOH: Travelers from South Africa who arrived in PH had no COVID-19 symptoms

CHRISTMAS RUSH. Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers start arriving for the holiday season, at the NAIA on December 1, 2021.

Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire says results of the confirmatory RT-PCR tests of the three travelers have yet to be released

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday, December 2, that three travelers from South Africa, where the first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected, did not show any coronavirus symptoms when they arrived in the Philippines.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire said that the three travelers were quarantined in Negros Oriental, and arrived in the country before a travel ban on South Africa was imposed.

“They were immediately isolated once it was reported that they were from South Africa. Based on reports, the three are fully vaccinated, they do not have any signs and symptoms, they were just isolated for that purpose because they were from South Africa,” Vergeire said.

The health spokesperson said the travelers were released when they were cleared by the Bureau of Quarantine.

“So extra measures are being done in Negros Oriental when they were again isolated,” Vergeire added.

The results of the confirmatory RT-PCR tests of the three travelers have yet to be released.

The government is also monitoring the health condition of 64 other travelers who arrived in the Philippines from the “red list” countries.

The DOH said on Wednesday, December 1, that the country has yet to detect the presence of the Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant – which has also been detected in the US, Europe, and Asia – is raising concern worldwide given its number of mutations, which might help it spread or even evade antibodies from prior infection or vaccination.

The detection of the new variant pushed a number of countries, including the Philippines, to impose border controls anew, after recovering from the Delta variant-driven surge in COVID-19 cases.

The World Health Organization on November 26 classified the B.1.1.529 variant, or Omicron, as a SARS-CoV-2 “variant of concern,” saying it may spread more quickly than other forms of coronavirus.

Little is still known about Omicron and experts said they don’t yet know whether it would cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other coronavirus strains.

EXPLAINER: How worried should we be about the Omicron variant?

EXPLAINER: How worried should we be about the Omicron variant?

The DOH appealed to the public to continue proper mask wearing and to be conscious of observing health measures as the holiday season draws near. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.