The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, May 6, said it has not yet detected the presence of the “double mutant” variant from India.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire the country has yet to record a case of the B.1.617 variant first detected in India that is dubbed “double mutant.” It is a virus strain that carries two mutations.
“We have not detected that yet. Since the start of this alleged double variant from India was announced, we tried to review or reevaluate our data system in the Philippine Genome Center and according to [them], until now we have not detected this variant yet,” Rosario said.
On Thursday, DOH clarified that only five passengers from India have tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before the travel ban was imposed.
Vergeire said the sample of these patients have been sent to the Philippine Genome Center to determine if they were carrying the B.1.617 variant.
“All returning overseas Filipinos or all travelers coming in the country when they get in, we do double samples. We do swab for the RT-PCR and another sample is taken from the individual so that we can be able to send it over to the Philippine Genome Center if ever they turn positive,” Vergeire said.
“Genome sequencing is very important, it’s going to be done,” she added.
Based on the data of the Bureau of Quarantine, a total of 149 passengers with travel history from India arrived in the Philippines prior to the travel ban.
The DOH assured that these passengers were quarantined upon arrival and tested on the sixth and seventh day.
The Philippines has imposed a 15-day ban on travelers coming from India.
It also announced that it is barring the entry of travelers coming from Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh from May 7 to 14 in a bid to prevent the entry of the B.1.617 variant.