DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, May 14, 2021, said the number of passengers who are considered close contacts of the two B.1.617 cases has increased to 41.
DOH officials said they were tracing the fellow passengers seated within four seats on both sides, in front and behind each patient, after initially assuring that the two patients have had no close contacts.
Of the 41, Vergeire said six were earlier identified as close contacts of the B.1.617 case from Oman while 35, not 26 as DOH earlier reported, were close contacts of the case from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“No’ng ni-review namin uli ang manifesto at data systems, nasa 35 na po ang nandoon po sa close contacts, sa perimeter...As I said, we are tracing all of them and trying to check on their status,” Vergeire said.
She assured that all passengers had undergone the testing and quarantine protocols for arriving international passengers.
“So they were either tested on the fifth or the sixth day, and they have completed quarantine at the national and local government level,” she said.
“The protocols were followed and hopefully, hindi naman po tayo nagkaroon ng breaches in protocols para masabi natin na merong danger sa ating mga kababayan regarding these cases,” she added.
The B.1.617 variant of Sars-CoV-2, which as been declared as a variant of concern, is believed to be behind the explosive rise in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in India.
As of May 11, the World Health Organization said this variant has also been confirmed in 44 countries. Five more countries had reported detection of the variant.
This variant has three sub-lineages, namely, B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3
The two returning Filipinos who were found infected with this variant had the B.1.617.2 sub-lineage.
The first case, a 37-year-old male, arrived from Oman on April 10, 2021. He tested negative of the virus in a repeat swab test on May 3. He has gone home to Soccsksargen.
The second case, a 58-year-old male, arrived from UAE on April 19, 2021. He has returned home to Bicol.
DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman, in a press conference on May 11, assured that both cases were contained and neither had any close contacts.
“Dahil ang mga kaso ay nailagay na sa quarantine immediately upon their arrival in the country, walang na-detect na close contacts,” she had said. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)