Six travelers from India test positive for COVID-19 — DOH
MANILA, Philippines — Six travelers from India, who have arrived in the Philippines before the travel ban, have tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the six patients were among the 110 travelers from India who have arrived before the travel ban was imposed and have already went through COVID-19 testing.
“As to these Indian travelers that were quarantined upon arrival here before the restrictions were imposed, 110 of them underwent testing and six turned out to be positive and it is now submitted to the Philippine Genome Center for whole genome sequencing,” she said in an online press briefing.
Vergeire said authorities are still locating six other travelers.
The Philippines started implementing travel ban from India on April 29 amid the surge of COVID-19 cases there. The travel ban will end on May 14.
The ban covers those coming from India and those with travel history to India within the last 14 days before the restriction.
India is now being considered the newest coronavirus epicenter amid the fast outbreak of COVID-19 in the South Asian country and as experts raise concern over the B.1.617 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that India first reported in October last year.
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The World Health Organization has categorized the variant as a “variant of interest” as it was found to have several mutations, including the E484Q and L452R, leading to it being called the “double mutant.”
Experts say that the E484Q mutation is similar to the E484K dubbed as “escape mutation” as it helps the virus get past the body’s immune system. Meanwhile, the L452R was found by a Californian study to be an efficient spreader of the virus.
The B.1.617 has yet to be detected in the Philippines.
At present, the health department has so far reported a total of 948 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, 1,075 cases of the B.1.351 variant detected in South Africa, 157 cases of the P.3 variant detected in the Philippines, and two cases of the P.1 variant from Brazil as of May 3.
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