(Philstar.com) – May 5, 2021 – 2:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Six travelers from India who arrived in the Philippines in late April tested positive for the novel coronavirus, said the Department of Health.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at Wednesday’s briefing that 110 passengers from India, who arrived in the country before the travel ban was imposed, were subjected to COVID-19 testing.

“Six turned out to be positive and it is now submitted to the Philippine Genome Center for whole-genome sequencing,” she said. This will also determine whether the patients are infected with the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first found in India.

Vergeire added that there are six passengers who are now being located by health authorities.

The Philippine government imposed a two-week ban on travelers from India starting April 29 until May 14. The restriction covers all passengers, including Filipinos.

Even as the government relaxed travel restrictions on foreign nationals entering the country last week, the ban on travelers from India remained.

Data released on Tuesday showed that the country has yet to detect the B.1.617 variant in the country.

Health authorities have so far reported that 289 are infected with the variant first detected in the United Kingdom known as B.1.1.7, while 380 are infected with the variant first identified in South Africa known as B.1.351. They also detected nine cases carrying the P.3 variant first found in the Philippines.

In an earlier interview with ANC’s “Headstart”, Vergeire said they will be recommending to the coronavirus task force to direct COVID-19 testing of arriving passengers on the 7th or 8th day.

She explained that evidence shows these are the days when the viral load is at the highest. Revising the testing protocol for inbound passengers will also help them to have “accurate test results, isolate who is infected,” added Vergeire.

But DOH’s recommendation will still be brought up for approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

On Tuesday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 1,067,892, with 66,060 are deemed as active cases. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico