3 travelers from South Africa under quarantine in Negros Occidental

Three travelers who arrived from South Africa last week are currently under quarantine in Negros Occidental.

According to Jun Veneracion’s “24 Oras” report on Wednesday, the Negros Occidental provincial government said the three foreigners, who are consultants of a power firm in the province, arrived in the country days before the Philippines enforced a travel ban on South Africa.

Two of the foreigners arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on November 24. They flew to Negros Occidental the following day.

The third foreigner, meanwhile, arrived in the country on November 26.

The Philippines has temporarily banned inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the Omicron variant, which was first detected in southern Africa. The temporary measure was announced on the evening of November 26.

Department of Health officials (DOH) in Negros Occidental, meanwhile, tasked the local government to trace these foreigners.

“We traced them and they were isolated. As part of the company’s policy, once you arrive from [traveling] abroad, you are not yet allowed to join the work force,” said Rayfrando Diaz II, Negros Occidental provincial administrator.

He said the three foreigners did not leave their homes upon arriving in the province.

“They went directly to their staff houses and did not mingle with other people,” he said.

Further, the local government said the foreigners were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provided negative RT-PCR test results before arriving in the country.

“We don’t have any adverse observations. As far as their health condition is concerned, they are doing well. There’s no reason for us to fear that the virus has already been transmitted from South Africa to Negros Occidental,” Diaz said.

Nevertheless, the foreigners will still undergo RT-PCR tests on Thursday while still under quarantine. Authorities had also conducted contact tracing.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said if the RT-PCR tests of these foreigners come back positive, the samples will be sent to the Philippine Genome Center, which will determine if they contracted the Omicron variant.

To prevent the possible spread of the omicron variant, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) said around 63 Filipinos from red list countries or areas that are high risk for COVID-19 transmission are also at the quarantine facilities.

The DOH said there is no Omicron case yet in the country.

“Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron. We are still processing [the] next batch of whole genome sequences,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a message to reporters. — VBL, GMA News

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