Seven unlocated travelers who arrived in the country from South Africa, where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant Omicron was first detected may be charged after providing false contact information, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
“Pagka ito ay nahuli sila, masita sila ay pakakasuhan natin. Kasi hindi naman pwede yun na naglalagay ka ng mga impormasyon na hindi tama, hindi totoo (When we find them, we will charge them. Because it is not right to put information there that is untrue and incorrect),” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in an interview on DZBB.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that it is under the law that once health declaration forms are signed, they are attested to be true.
The issue was raised after the DOH confirmed that one of the seven returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from South Africa was located. The ROF is under home quarantine and tested negative in the RT-PCR test.
DOH said that among the seven remaining unlocated ROFs, three of them gave their agency numbers not their personal contact numbers, one gave an incorrect contact number, another gave an incomplete contact number while two others were uncontactable.
The government has since been on high alert due to the emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant Omicron, taking specific measures to secure the country’s borders from foreign travelers especially from South Africa where it originated from.
“Meron naman tayong batas diyan nagsasabi na lahat ng ilalagay mo diyan dapat totoo otherwise pwede kang mademanda lalo na nasa public health emergency tayo (We have a law that states that you should put the correct information otherwise you will be charged especially now that we are in a public health emergency),” Duque said.
“Kagaya nyan gusto mo mag back tracing, mahirapan ka magback tracing dahil hindi mo alam saan mo sila hahanapin ngayon (In that scenario, if you would want to conduct back tracing you will have a hard time because you do not know where to look for them),” he added.
He said that an investigation is underway to find any leads that will help them locate the remaining ROFs.