Passenger with new COVID-19 variant gave negative test result before HK flight – PAL

Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said on Wednesday, January 6, that the passenger who tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant in Hong Kong had submitted a negative result prior to the flight from Manila.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a test message that the airline has sent the necessary information on the passenger to the Philippine Bureau of Quarantine for contact-tracing efforts.

"The passenger (whose identity we cannot disclose) presented a negative COVID-19 test before taking the Manila to Hong Kong flight last December 22. The presentation of a negative COVID test by arriving passengers is a requirement of the HK government," said Villaluna.

PAL said that the airline "strictly adheres to vital health and safety protocols to help ensure that air travel is safe even during the pandemic."

Hong Kong on Tuesday, January 5, said that the passenger, a 30-year-old Hong Kong resident, was among the 4 cases of the new variant there.

The woman took PR300 from Manila on December 22. It's still unclear where the woman contracted the virus.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and the Philippine Genome Center maintained that the new variant has yet to be detected in the Philippines, based on sequencing done on 305 samples from November to December.

The new variant – reportedly more infectious than the dominant one –pushed countries worldwide to close their borders and impose stricter restrictions. Manila has so far barred foreign travelers from 21 countries from entering the Philippines. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at