Philippines 'intently' monitoring new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa

Philippines 'intently' monitoring new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa
This undated handout image obtained March 28, 2021, courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIH/NIAID), shows a colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample, at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Handout / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is keeping a close watch on a new COVID-19 variant that was detected in South Africa, Malacañang said Friday, as the country prepares to welcome back foreign tourists.

Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the government is monitoring developments about the variant found to have a large number of mutations.

“We are intently monitoring the situation. Our genomic surveillance is ongoing and we are coordinating with the World Health Organization,” Nograles said in Filipino.

“We are in constant communication with the WHO and awaiting their advisories on whether it will be considered a variant of interest or a variant of concern,” he added.

The detection of the variant, which scientists said could be more resistant to current vaccines, has prompted several Asian and European countries to tighten travel restrictions.

Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said the agency is ready to implement possible changes in border control protocols should the government find it necessary to adjust regulations.

The government announced Friday that foreigners who do not need a visa to enter the Philippines may come to the country, provided they are fully-vaccinated, come from a “Green List” country and present a negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours before departure.

The decision to ease border restrictions comes as COVID-19 cases continue to decline. — Gaea Katreena Cabico



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