3 close contacts of OFW infected with India variant test positive for COVID-19 — DOH

Published May 15, 2021, 1:48 PM

by Analou de Vera

Three close contacts of the Filipino seafarer, who was detected to have the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, have tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The swab sample of one of the close contacts of the 58-year-old seafarer who returned from United Arab Emirates will be subjected for genome sequencing to determine if the person also carries the same coronavirus variant, said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during the Laging Handa press briefing on Saturday, May 15.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire

Vergeire said that they are still locating the two other close contacts who tested positive for the viral illness.

The 58-year-old seafarer had 32 “verified close contacts” in his flight, said Vergeire.

However, the DOH on Friday, May 14, said that his close contacts inside the plane were 35.

Twenty-eight out of his 32 close contacts tested negative for COVID-19. The DOH is still checking the health status of the other close contact.

Meanwhile, three out of the six close contacts on the plane of the 37-year-old Filipino seafarer from Oman tested negative for the viral illness, said Vergeire.

“Tatlo po sa kanila, nakita na namin sa database ay (RT-)PCR negative. Yung tatlo, hinahanap pa po namin sa database namin dahil hindi po nagma-match yung mga pangalan na nasa manifesto (Three of them were (RT-) PCR negative based on our database. We are still checking (the health status) of the three others in our database because the names in the manifesto do not match),” said Vergeire.

Last Friday, Vergeire assured that all close contacts of the country’s first two cases of B.1.617 variant were quarantined and tested upon their arrival in the country.

“Itong lahat ng taong ito ay na subject sa ating protocol pagdating dito (all these people were subjected to our protocol when they arrived here). They were either tested on the 5th or 6th day and they had completed their quarantine at the national and local government level,” she then said.

The B.1.617 variant originated in India in October last year.

Health experts said that this coronavirus variant spreads more easily.

However, “in terms of virulence or the gravity of the infection, there’s not much data as of now,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III in a television interview last May 12.