MANILA, Philippines, February 26 ------ The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday a slowdown in the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in China and other countries. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Filipino workers appeared to be no longer in a rush to leave the country even after the lifting of the travel ban in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
“They are probably taking precautions if there are COVID cases in the countries where they are going. Since they have received financial assistance, they would rather wait until the situation improves,” Bello said. He said there were OFWs who opted to delay their departure for Hong Kong even if they have plane tickets. “They decided not to leave immediately since their employers have extended their vacation leave,” he said. Bello also said it is up to the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases headed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to recommend the imposition of a travel ban in South Korea where cases of COVID-19 are increasing.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in South Korea has not recommended a travel ban, Bello said. He added the DOLE is not inclined to recommend the lifting of the travel ban in China. One of three Filipino workers in United Arab Emirates who tested positive for COVID-19 has recovered from the disease, according to Bello. “The two others remain confined in a hospital in UAE,” he said.