More than a dozen foreign tourists in Palawan have tested positive for COVID-19 amid relaxed pandemic restrictions in a bid to revive the country’s economy.
In a statement on Tuesday (May 3), the Department of Health (DOH) said that around 15 fully vaccinated individuals who visited the province of Palawan were declared positive for the virus.
"All 15 individuals mentioned are foreigners and are fully vaccinated, of which 13 were asymptomatic and 2 presented mild symptoms with onset dates from April 27-28. 14 were isolated in facilities while 1 was admitted at a hospital," the health agency said.
"They were tested in RT-PCR on April 29-30, of which all resulted as positive."
Meanwhile, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that swab samples collected from the 15 travelers will be submitted to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for whole-genome sequencing to determine if they carry any COVID-19 variant.
“We will tag this as urgent. Small number of samples can be sequenced so we can get the results immediately. But as of this time, samples have not been submitted to PGC,” the official said in a press conference on Tuesday (May 3).
Cagayancillo, Palawan – the closest settlement to the Tubbataha National Marine Park where the tourists reportedly went – is currently under Alert Level 1, where establishments and modes of transportation are allowed at 100% capacity.
"As of the moment, the DOH through the [Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit] and [City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit] are still verifying the situation and will update the public once more information is available," the DOH said.
The health agency earlier reported the country's first case of Omicron’s new subvariant, BA.2.12, in Baguio City. The said sublineage is believed to be more transmissible than forms of COVID-19.
The Philippines currently has 53,934 active COVID-19 cases as of May 4.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom.
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