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PH’s Bureau of Quarantine now tracing 182 travelers from South Africa

/ 03:34 PM December 03, 2021
The Bureau of Quarantine is trying to contact 182 more travelers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29.

FILE PHOTO: Persons identified for contact tracing in connection to COVID-19 patients undergo swabbing procedures inside UP-Philippine General Hospital, Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) is trying to contact 182 more travelers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Based on DOH data, a total of 253 travelers from South Africa, composed of 249 returning Filipinos and four foreign nationals, arrived in the Philippines from the said period. A total of 71 of them have been located or contacted.

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Of the 71 individuals, three have tested negative for COVID-19 and the test result of one traveler is still pending. The test results of 67 others are still being processed.

Seventy of them are undergoing facility-based quarantine while the other is under home quarantine.

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The government has temporarily banned inbound flights from South Africa and 13 other countries from November 28 to December 15 following the threat of the Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and South Africa in November, according to DOH. South African scientists were the first to announce the discovery of the new variant, saying it has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that with 50 mutations overall, including 30 that are in its spike protein, it is possible that the Omicron variant may cause increased virus transmissibility and “immune evasion.”

However, she noted that further studies are needed to better understand the variant’s effect on the virus’ transmissibility, infectivity, and effect on vaccines.

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Booster shots may offer higher protection vs Omicron variant – infectious disease expert 

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