Virus cases seen to spike as more migrant workers return home

MANILA. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel welcome repatriates in this photo taken on April 12, 2020. (Photo from DFA Facebook)

THE arrival of more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the next few weeks could lead to a spike in coronavirus infections across the country, National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Friday, May 22.

“Nagpulong-pulong po tayo sa Malacañang kasama ang key secretaries and napagusapan po natin ang preparation for ‘second wave’ and nakita namin dito is ‘yung magkaroon ng spike ang mga ibang lugar at isa rito na nakikita natin is yung importation ng transmission through ‘yung malaking influx ng ating OFWs,” he said during a Laging Handa online briefing Friday.

At least 30,000 OFWs who have been displaced by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic have been repatriated. Over the next few weeks, Galvez said they expect around 42,000 more to come home.

He said they have estimated the number of OFWs who will be displaced by the pandemic at 150,000 to 500,000

Galvez said the returning migrant workers are coming from areas that are affected by the pandemic such as the United States of America (USA), Spain, and Italy.

“So ‘yon ang tinitingnan natin na magkaroon tayo ng possible second wave,” he said.

Nasal swabs are taken from OFWs upon arrival. They are then brought to quarantine facilities for the mandatory 14-day isolation.

“Kaya ngayon lahat ng mga agencies ay prepared especially ‘yung special task group of repatriation, so that we can test them immediately sa ating mga airports,” Galvez said.

He said that of the estimated 30,000 OFWs who were tested, only 2.0 percent or around 600 were found positive for the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2.

Galvez said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is preparing for a possible second epidemic wave by clustering areas based on the number of confirmed cases.

Confirmed cases refer to individuals who tested positive for the virus through the reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test conducted by an accredited laboratory. (SunStar Philippines)


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