The Department of Health confirmed that the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 which was first discovered in India has been detected in the Philippines.
Two samples tested positive among the specimens of 46 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who went through the latest run of genome sequencing.
“For the 46 samples that were sequenced, there were two incoming returning overseas Filipinos [who] were included, and one came from Oman and the other from UAE. They tested positive for the India variant. No history of travel to India or they did not come from India nor passed through India,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing on Tuesday, May 11.
The first case is a 37-year old sea-based overseas Filipino worker from Oman. He arrived in the Philippines on April 10 and his specimen was collected on April 15.
While the second case is a 58-year old sea-based overseas Filipino worker from the United Arab Emirates who arrived in the country on April 19. His specimen was collected on April 24.
Both cases have already recovered and remained asymptomatic. The 37-year old had his repeat test on May 3 and came out negative, while the second patient was isolated in a temporary treatment facility and his recovery was declared on May 6.
Furthermore, 23 out of 46 samples were also found positive for the B.1.351 variant which was first detected in South Africa, and four were positive for the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau said, the two cases were immediately quarantined upon arrival so there was no close contact identified. She added that according to the available information, some of the plane passengers near the two double variant-positive travelers have already tested negative for the virus. Authorities are now confirming if those passengers have completed their quarantine.