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615 contacts of Bontoc variant cases reached
These individuals are considered the “first, second and third generation contacts” of the 12 cases in Bontoc, Mountain Province, the DOH said.
STAR/File

615 contacts of Bontoc variant cases reached

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has reached 615 contacts of 12 persons infected with the new COVID-19 variant in Bontoc, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reported yesterday.

These individuals are considered the “first, second and third generation contacts” of the 12 cases in Bontoc, Mountain Province, the DOH said.

“They have reviewed the triaging system in Cordillera Administrative Region and they were able to find eight overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived in the area. We are waiting for the results of the swab tests of these people so we can possibly know where the infections came from,” she said at a press briefing.

Details about the eight OFWs were not immediately available.

The DOH also noted recording higher deaths in the past weeks after coordinating with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), as deaths on the department’s COVID-19 case bulletin may not be the actual figures occurring in a certain period.

“If you noticed in the past weeks, we have been tallying a high number of deaths. But we would like to explain that the actual deaths would only be a certain percentage of it. Soon, it will already stabilize and you will again see the actual number of deaths,” she added.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. announced that arriving passengers will be quarantined and subjected to swab testing on the fifth day of their arrival effective Feb. 1.

“Unless the passenger exhibits symptoms at an earlier date while in quarantine, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test shall be conducted on the fifth day from date of arrival in the Philippines,” the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said in its Resolution No. 96.

“If the swab test yields a negative result, the passenger shall be endorsed to their local government units of destination who shall then coordinate transfer of said passenger from quarantine facility to the local government unit (LGU),” Roque said.

Last Tuesday evening, the IATF included Czech Republic in the list of areas with travel restrictions to curb the new COVID-19 variants.

“Relative to the detection of the UK variant, the Office of the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, prohibits the entry to the Philippines of foreign passengers coming from or who have been to the Czech Republic within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines effective today (Thursday, Manila time until Jan. 31, 2021),” Roque said.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) also issued its own advisory. “We have received a directive expanding the travel restrictions to include aliens coming from the Czech Republic, or those who have been there within 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines. This will take effect 0001H of January 28, until the end of the month,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

President Duterte earlier ordered travel restrictions of all foreign travelers coming from Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Switzerland France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan and Brazil.

The country has issued travel restrictions to all foreigners coming from China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman after the new strain of COVID-19 was reported in these countries.

Shorter quarantine

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) gave assurance that returning OFWs would have enough accommodations, even with the new testing policy for returning Filipinos.

“No problem. Even before when they are required to undergo quarantine for 14 days, we have sufficient accommodation. The quarantine period was shortened so we have more accommodations available,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said at a virtual briefing yesterday.

Bello further gave assurances that the government has sufficient budget to pay for the repatriation and accommodation of Filipino workers returning from abroad this year. Since the pandemic started, the government has repatriated about 420,000 displaced OFWs. – Christina Mendez, Rudy Santos, Mayen Jaymalin

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