Three travellers from South Africa, Egypt, and Burkina Faso tested positive for coronavirus illness (COVID-19), according to the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, December 3.
According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, 253 South Africans, 3 Burkinabes, and 541 Egyptians arrived in the Philippines between November 15 and November 29.
“Mayroon pong dumating na 253 from South Africa noong Nov. 15 to 29, may tatlo galing Burkina Faso, and mayroong 541 galing sa Egypt. Each of these countries, nagkaroon ng isang traveler who tested positive for COVID-19,” she told an online media briefing.
(There were 253 travellers who arrived from South Africa on Nov. 15 to 29. There were also three travellers from Burkina Faso and 541 from Egypt. Each of these countries had one traveller who tested positive for COVID-19.)
“Mayroong isa out of 253 from South Africa, isa out of 541 from Egypt and isa out of three from Burkina Faso. Lahat po ‘yan ng nagpositive na yan, as long as CT values are appropriate, ipapadala po natin sa Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing,” she added.
According to Vergeire, the country’s pandemic task force assigned the Bureau of Quarantine, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and local government units to “find travelers from November 15 to 29.”
Due to the threat of the Omicron variety, inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy have been temporarily halted until December 15.
According to DOH, the Omicron variant was detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and South Africa in November. The novel variant was identified by South African scientists, who described it as having a “quite odd constellation” of mutations.
With 50 changes in all, including 30 in the spike protein, Vergeire believes the Omicron variety may induce enhanced viral transmissibility and “immune evasion.”