Health authorities said Wednesday they have not detected the globally feared Omicron variant as yet in a quarantined returning Filipino migrant worker who arrived home from South Africa last week—when the country was still on the green list.
The unidentified male Filipino migrant worker is in quarantine in Bacolod City and thus far not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, according to Bureau of Quarantine Deputy Director Roberto Salvador Jr.
"Just to be clear, no detection yet of Omicron, we are still processing (the) next batch of whole genome sequences," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in Manila.
"There are no signs or symptoms on the OFW we are monitoring. We are doing contract tracing now," added Salvador.
First identified in Botswana and South Africa, the new iteration of COVID-19 has prompted concern among scientists and public health officials because of an unusually high number of mutations that have the potential to make the virus more transmissible and less susceptible to existing vaccines.
The World Health Organization has called Omicron a “variant of concern” and warned on Monday that the global risks posed by it were “very high.”
Cases have been identified in 20 countries so far, including Britain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The government imposed a temporary ban on travelers from South Africa and six other countries surrounding it on Nov. 26 amid the threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which is supposedly more transmissible and contains several mutations of the virus.
Public health experts, however, have urged caution, noting that there is as yet no firm evidence that Omicron is more dangerous than previous variants like Delta, which quickly overtook its predecessors in the United States and other countries.