Earlier this week, Hong Kong health officials revealed that they detected the new Covid19 variant in a passenger originating from Manila last December.
The 30-year-old female Filipino passenger, a registered Hong Kong resident working as a domestic helper, flew Philippine Airlines flight PR 300. The aircraft carrier said that she tested negative before flying from Manila.
In a statement, PAL said: “The passenger (who identity we cannot disclose) presented a negative Covid test before taking the Manila to Hong Kong flight last Dec. 22. The presentation of a negative Covid test by arriving passengers is a requirement of the HK government.”
The detection of the new variant in the passenger, however, raised fears that the variant had already reached the Philippines.
The Department of Health quashed such notions when the Philippine Genome Center released a genome sequencing study that showed the new variant was not present yet in the country. The study analyzed 305 positive samples collected from hospital admissions and inbound travelers from November to December last year.
The DOH is currently coordinating with Hong Kong International Health Regulations in order to obtain official notification and other information about the Hong Kong resident.
The new variant named B.1.17, was first detected in the United Kingdom and is believed to be more contagious, reaching several countries across the globe.
As some countries in the Southeast Asian region had reported cases, the Philippine government implemented a ban on all travelers coming from the UK and from countries with reported cases.
Although the new variant is not necessarily more deadly, scientists say that it is up to 70% more infectious than the original variant.