Not only one but three COVID-19 variants are being monitored by the Department of Health (DOH) once they enter the Philippines.
“Sa ngayon, meron na tayong tatlong variant na binabantayan. Ito po ‘yung sa UK na type ng variant, ito po ‘yung sa South African na variant, and then there was this identified variant din dito naman sa Malaysia,” Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire confirms in virtual press briefing.
About 300 samples are currently being studied at the Philippine Genome Center, which is said to be just the first batch.
According to Vergeire, the samples obtained came from different regions in the Visayas and Mindanao, to see if there are new COVID-19 variants in these areas.
It was first reported that a Filipina domestic helper who arrived in Hong Kong tested positive for the new strain of the UK COVID-19 variant so the DOH conducted contact tracing on those she met in the Cagayan Valley Region and on her way to Manila.
“They are currently quarantined and being monitored, these are close contacts in Solana, Cagayan,” said the DOH official.
It is said that the close contacts of the Filipinas in Manila have also been tracked and swabbed. They were also quarantined and the situation is being observed.
DOH monitors 3 COVID-19 variants
Vergeire, on the other hand, assured that funds will be allocated to the PH Genome Center to sustain their education which is important to their surveillance system.
Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente announced foreign passengers coming from or have been to Austria 14 days before arrival in the Philippines shall be prohibited from entering the country.
“The restriction for those coming from Austria will start at 12:01 midnight of January 10, and will be in effect until January 15,” he stated.
The added restriction brings the total number of restricted countries to 28.
Earlier, the government imposed a travel ban on travelers from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, and the United States.
Included yesterday are Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, and Brazil.