Baldoz warns Filipino workers in South Africa against Ebola virus

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The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in West Africa to remain calm amid the breakout of the Ebola virus, particularly in Guinea.

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On Monday, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a list of precautionary and safety measures for OFWs in West Africa to prevent them from acquiring the virus.

Citing reports from the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to the DOLE, Baldoz announced that there is no reported case of any Filipino affected by the Ebola virus.

However, she clarified that the OFWs in West Africa should not be confident against the virus, noting that there is no vaccine available against Ebola virus.

Baldoz urged the OFWs to “prevent and avoid handshakes; do not eat or stop eating bush meat; avoid traveling to areas where there is a reported outbreak; and do not get close to any person suspected of having the Ebola virus.”

“We strongly advise these precautionary and safety measures in the wake of international media reports that the government of Guinea in Western Africa has urged people to remain calm following the outbreak of Ebola which had killed 70 people in that country since February 9,” she said.

Based on reports, more than 125 people in three countries in West Africa are believed to have been infected by the Ebola virus.

Medical experts said the virus easily spreads through close contact with bodily fluids, such as the sweat, blood, and saliva of an infected person or animal.

Doctors say the only way to contain the outbreak is to stop further infections.

Baldoz is currently in Geneva heading a Philippine delegation to the United Nations (UN) committee tasked to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families.

According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were 4,620 OFWs in West Africa as of 2012.

In Guinea, where there is a breakout of the Ebola virus, there were 358 OFWs, which 323 were rehires and 35 were new hires.

There were 14 OFWs in Benin; 43 in Burkina Faso; two in Cape Verde; nine in Gambia; 657 in Ghana; three in Guinea-Bissau; 232 in Liberia; 82 in Mali; 155 in Mauritania; 62 in Niger; 1,997 in Nigeria; 78 in Senegal; 919 in Sierra Leone; and nine in Togo.

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