The Department of Health (DOH) said it is now checking the health statuses of the close contacts of the two returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who were detected to have the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a total of 32 close contacts were identified – who were co-passengers of the two seafarers on the plane.
Vergeire said that the 37-year-old seafarer who returned from Oman on April 10 had six close contacts on the plane. Meanwhile, the 56-year-old seafarer from the United Arab Emirates who returned last April 19 had 26 passengers near him inside the plane.
“What we are looking right now are the co-passengers in their flights, and we were able to locate – we got the manifesto – we got the arrangement of seats,” said Vergeire in a television interview on Wednesday, May 12.
“‘Pag sinabing close contact at nasa eroplano, merong protocol (When you say close contacts inside a plane)…It’s four seats behind, four seats in front, and the ones beside (the patient).”
The Health official said that they are now in the process of getting the swab test results of the close contacts.
“We will know that. As I’ve said, we are getting the information because all of these returning overseas Filipinos – they are tested on the fifth or the sixth day when they arrive. We will get the information. We are just finding the names in our data system, so we will know the information of their laboratory results,” she added.
On Tuesday, health authorities confirmed the first two cases of B.1.617 variant of coronavirus in the Philippines. This variant first emerged in India last October. In a television interview on Wednesday, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that this variant is associated with “increased transmissibility” and is now present in 42 countries.