MNS photo

MANILA, Dec 6 (Mabuhay) — The Bureau of Quarantine said Sunday that most travelers who entered the Philippines from Omicron-affected countries such as South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Egypt are still under quarantine and have not shown COVID-19 symptoms, so far.

“Lahat naman po wala namang nagpapakita ng sintomas. Nakikipag-coordinate tayo sa central office natin sa Department of Health (DOH) at Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) para masigurado na mabantayan itong mga tao, mga kababayan natin na nandito na sa Pilipinas,” BOQ Deputy Director Roberto Salvador Jr. said.

On Friday, the DOH reported there were 253 travelers from South Africa, three from Burkina Faso, and 541 from Egypt who arrived in the country from November 15 to November 29. Three of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Malacañang is awaiting the results of the genome sequencing on the samples taken from the three travelers to determine if they carry the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa and has since been designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

But, Salvador noted there is nothing worry about the travelers who are under 14-day mandatory quarantine as mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

“Wala pong dapat ikatakot ang publiko. Kailangan po kasi nilang tapusin ‘yung 14 days na mandatory quarantine bago makabalik dito sa community nila,” he said.

He added that the DILG is helping monitor travelers who went home in cities and provinces by tapping concerned local government units (LGUs).

Also, Salvador reiterated the new testing and quarantine protocols by the IATF for travelers arriving from countries that are not on the Philippines’ red list amid the threat of the Omicron variant.

According to him, the BOQ is implementing strict protocols to prohibit the Omicron variant to enter the country’s borders, noting that the public also needs to help by getting vaccinated and following the minimum public health standards (MPHS).

“Tandaan po natin na kahit anong variant ‘yung pumasok, kahit sobra sobra pa siyang nakakahawa, ‘wag nating kalimutan ang MPHS–’yung paggamit ng masks, paghugas ng kamay, iwasan ‘yung matataong lugar–ito po talaga ‘yung sandata para hindi tayo makakita ng kahit anog variant tsaka importante rin ‘yung bakuna natin,” he said.

(We should bear in mind that any variant that enters, regardless of its transmissibility, we should follow the MPHS — wearing of masks, washing of hands, avoiding crowded places. These are our protection against any variant, on top of the vaccines.)

On November 29, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned that Omicron’s the entry in the Philippines is always a possibility, saying that “it is not a matter of if but when.”

Travelers’ pets

Further, Salvador said that pets brought by travelers also need to undergo quarantine protocols, as mandated by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

“Ang BOQ ay para sa humans, ang aso ay sa BAI. Magkahiwalay po tayo ng procedures pero talagang hinihiwalay po sila kasi kailangan may nagbabantay sa mga animals na pinaparating dito, ‘yung mga veterinarian natin sa BAI,” he said.

Salvador added that while the government still does not require animals to get tested for COVID-19 before entering the country, there are certain vaccines that need to be administered before the pets are allowed to get in. (MNS)

READ NEXT: COVID-19 restrictions must still be in place during Christmas parties — expert