The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that they are now investigating some individuals who have recently traveled to India-the place where a new COVID-19 variant that is now feared was first discovered.
The government implemented a travel ban for travelers from India until May 14 after the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant, which is said to be more contagious, spread there. India also recorded the highest daily COVID-19 cases in the world in recent days.
“May mga dumating sa atin — katulad ng nabanggit namin sa inyo noong isang linggo — na merong mga pasaherong either [merong] touchpoint doon sa India, nag-pass through sila [roon] or galing sila talaga roon and they are currently quarantined,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday.
“So tinitingnan natin itong mga ito. Once may magpositive sa mga samples nila, we are going to subject this to the whole genome sequencing process.”
Despite that, there was still nothing in last week’s samples that showed the said variant: “That’s why we are trying to strengthen our border control implementation so that we can avoid this happening to us,” Vergeire added.
DOH quarantines individuals ‘possibly’ infected with Indian COVID-19 variant
Rontgene Solante, who heads the adult infectious diseases unit of San Lazaro Hospital, had earlier said that the more contagious B.1.617 COVID-19 variant and loosening of restrictions in India are the reasons why cases are increasing again there.
India also currently has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States at 19,557,457, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Despite all this, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said earlier that the Philippines will soon repatriate some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are now trapped in India in conjunction with the new COVID-19 surge and more contagious variants-even with a travel ban.
However, the government will have to wait for a while before doing so.
“The right to return [in the Philippines] is a human right. Pero it is subject to police power,” said Roque in a virtual briefing.
“Ngayon, ‘yung ating travel ban which applies equally to Filipinos, is a similar measure adopted by the Philippine Government… Pero siyempre po, mananaig pa rin po ang puso ng ating presidente para sa ating mga OFWs.”
Visit our Facebook page for more news updates.