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3 Pinoys From South Africa Placed Under Isolation

3 Pinoys From South Africa Placed Under Isolation
A petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline about the new COVID-19 Omicron variant in Pretoria, South Africa on Nov. 27, 2021. As the world grapples with the emergence of the new variant, scientists in South Africa – where omicron was first identified – are scrambling to combat its spread across the country. Photo by AP

BACOLOD CITY – Three Filipinos have been placed under isolation days after they arrived in Negros Occidental from South Africa, where the new COVID-19 variant Omicron was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force action officer Rayfrando Diaz said the returning overseas Filipinos, who are residents of La Carlota City, Manapla and Calatrava in Negros Occidental, returned home on Nov. 26.

“They were isolated and will be re-swabbed on Dec. 1,” Diaz said on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

While they are fully vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19, Diaz said the three were placed under home quarantine after a hotel in Bacolod City refused to accommodate them.

Diaz said the Bureau of Quarantine had approved the entry of the three Negrenses, who declared in their S-PaSS that they came from Makati. S-PaSS is an online travel management system of the Department of Science and Technology used for domestic travel.

Diaz said they were informed that the three Filipinos came from South Africa only on Sunday.

“The primary obligation to check travelers from red countries lies with the Bureau of Quarantine,” he said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has suspended flights from seven European countries and several African nations due to the rising cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Border control

As more countries detect cases of the Omicron variant, tightening border controls became “less significant,” an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday night, Nov. 29.

Beverly Ho, DOH director for Health Promotion Bureau and Disease Prevent and Control Bureau, said they are being “judicious in the entire process” of border control because more countries are reporting Omicron variant cases.

“I think we just need to be very practical about the entire situation because a lot of things can change in a few hours,” Ho told “The Chiefs” on One News.

Ho said there are delays in the biosurveillance for COVID-19 variants in many countries.

“This means that people who are infected with a variant may be detected late. Border control is becoming less important,” she noted.

Ho underscored the fact that Omicron was classified as a variant of concern by the WHO in just a matter of days.

“This indicates that it could have implications on the transmissibility of cases and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.

“What we know so far, it is something we should not take lightly. We should be able to adjust or recalibrate what we are doing now so we will feel less threatened by the knowledge that Omicron is here,” she added.

Ho said the public should strictly follow minimum public health standards and get vaccinated. – With Sheila Crisostomo