3 contract COVID-19 after close contact with OFW infected with variant from India

Three people contracted COVID-19 after coming into close contact with a returning Filipino migrant worker who was found to be a carrier of a variant of the disease first seen in India, the health department said Saturday. 

It is not yet clear if the three persons are also carriers of the B.1.617 variant which has been classified as one “of concern” by the World Health Organization, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told state-run PTV. 

They were exposed to a 58-year-old male returning to the country from the United Arab Emirates, one of two of the first cases of the variant first seen in India detected in the Philippines.

A sample from one of the three close contacts has already been submitted for genome sequencing to determine if they are a carrier of the B.1.617 variant, Vergeire said, while the two others are still being traced by health authorities. 

Of the total 32 people exposed to the carrier, Vergeire said 28 tested negative for COVID-19. “The one [remaining close contact] is still being verified because they are not in our COVID Kaya database system,” she added in Filipino. 

The other traveler found to be carrying the variant of concern was a 37-year-old male returning from Oman. His three close contacts tested negative for COVID-19, according to the undersecretary. 

Both carriers arrived in the Philippines in April and have since recovered from the disease, health authorities said Tuesday. 

— Bella Perez-Rubio 

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