Sun.Star Davao

PH confirms 2 cases of B.1.617 variant


MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, confirmed that the new coronaviru­s variant B.1.617 first reported in India was detected in two Filipino seafarers who returned home from the Middle East in April.

The confirmati­on was made roughly a month after the two seafarers arrived separately on April 10 and 19. DOH Epidemiolo­gy Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman assured that both cases were contained and neither had any close contacts.

“Dahil ang mga kaso ay nailagay na sa quarantine immediatel­y upon their arrival in the country, walang na-detect na close contacts,” she said.

She did not say whether the two patients’ fellow passengers were also cleared.

One is a 37-year-old from Oman and the other is a 58-year-old from the United Arab Emirates. Both did not have travel history to India.

Both have completed their mandatory quarantine, have been tagged as recovered from coronaviru­s disease 2019 (Covid-19), and have gone home to Soccsksarg­en and Bicol.

Meanwhile, the DOH has yet to announce the results of the genome sequencing conducted on the specimens taken from five travelers from India who tested positive for the virus.

The five travelers arrived before a ban on inbound passengers from India took effect on April 29.

The ban, which will last until May 14, has been expanded to include travelers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

A possible extension of the ban is under discussion. The B.1.617, which is believed to be causing the exponentia­l rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in India, has been classified by the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) as a variant of concern.

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