(UPDATED) The local government of Negros Occidental has taken extra precautionary measures as it again put in isolation three Filipinos who arrived in the country from South Africa, where cases of Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has been detected, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

In a television interview, Vergeire said the returning overseas Filipinos arrived in the Philippines on November 24, a few days before the national government imposed a ban on flights coming from South Africa and several other countries due to the feared Omicron variant.

They were isolated immediately upon arrival in the country and were cleared for release by the Bureau of Quarantine.

Vergeire said the results of their swab tests conducted upon their arrival have yet to be released, but they presented a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result before their arrival.

She said the three Filipinos have been fully vaccinated and were showing no symptoms of the virus.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said 64 more Filipinos from countries under red list are still under observation by the Bureau of Quarantine.

She said the Philippine Genome Center has yet to detect an Omicron variant case in the country.

The Omicron variant is currently the most mutated virus, in which spike protein is doubled than that of the Delta variant, which may affect vaccine efficacy and increase its transmissibility.

It was first detected in Botswana and then in South Africa. It was tagged as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.

The national government has imposed a ban on flights coming from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique where there were already local cases of Omicron until December 15.