2 cases of Indian Covid variant detected in PH: DOH

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

May 11, 2021, 2:48 pm

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday confirmed it detected two cases of the more transmissible B.1.617 variant in the Philippines.

“There were two incoming returning overseas Filipinos, one came from Oman and one came from UAE, sila po ‘yung nag-positive, no history of travel to India, they did not come from India nor passed through India,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online media forum.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Althea de Guzman said the B.1.617 variant was first detected in India last October 2020 and later detected in 46 other countries, based on the global genome database.

“It contains at least 15 mutations, with two significant mutations we’re monitoring and these are the L452R and the E484Q and the specific variant B.1.617.2 which we detected has an additional mutation which is the T478K,” de Guzman said.

The first case is a 37-year-old male who is a sea-based overseas Filipino worker (OFW) currently in Region 12, she said.

He came from Oman last April 10 and was isolated in a hotel in the National Capital Region. He recovered on April 26 and have undergone additional home quarantine in Region 12 until May 10.

He tested negative on May 3 after a repeat RT-PCR test and currently has no symptoms.

Meanwhile, the second case is a 58-year-old male who is also a sea-based OFW currently in Region 5.

He came from the United Arab Emirates last April 19 and was isolated at the Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility in Clark. He recovered on May 6 and currently has no symptoms.

“Dahil ang mga kaso, pagdating nila ay nalagay sa quarantine, wala pa tayong na-detect na close contacts (Because the cases were quarantined when they arrived, we have not detected close contacts),” de Guzman said.

“As of now, based on our interview, the information we got is they have no travel history from India,” she added.

To prevent the local transmission of the variants, the DOH urged for stricter border control.

“Tayo po ay kasulukuyang nagpapatupad ng travel ban sa mga papasok sa Pilipinas galing sa (We are now implementing travel ban to those entering the Philippines from) India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” Vergeire said.

All those who will enter the country from any port of entry regardless of their vaccination status will undergo mandatory 14 days quarantine upon their arrival.

“The first 10 days of their quarantine must be in a quarantine facility and the remaining four days must be completed under home quarantine in their respective local government units. The RT-PCR test will be conducted on the 7th day,” Vergeire said.

She said the 10-day quarantine must be completed in a quarantine facility whether the OFW tested positive or negative for Covid-19.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.617 as a "variant of concern".

At a media briefing, Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for Covid-19, said preliminary studies of the variant suggest that it is more transmissible, which puts it alongside other variants of concern.

Initially, it was classified as a "variant of interest" because it had mutations linked to higher transmission. Other variants of concern include the B.1.1.7 first detected in the UK and the P.1 detected in Brazil. (PNA)