• OFWs urged to submit to Ebola virus check

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    An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are returning to the Philippines from Ebola-stricken countriesto have themselves checked against the deadly virus.

    Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila and chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the CBCP, on Monday said the OFWs, especially those flying home from West Africa, should inform health authorities upon arrival if they have symptoms of the virus.

    Pabillo added that even at the airport or inside the airplane, the OFWs who have symptoms of the virus should immediately present themselves to health authorities.

    He urged the government to subject to thorough check-up OFW and tourist arrivals, especially from areas where the Ebola virus is rampant.

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued guidelines for seafarers and manning agencies in taking precautionary measures against infection from the Ebola virus.

    Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also on Monday said the guidelines were issued by the POEA for the seafarers’ welfare and protection.

    She noted that the seafarers could also be vulnerable to the virus especially when they interact with shore-based personnel who come on board ships to perform their duties.

    Under the guidelines, all shipping principals or employers with ships operating or calling on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone ports shall ensure that the seafarers are properly provided with working gears, including personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and goggles where necessary, to limit the possibility of exposure or contamination with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

    “There will be no shore leave for seafarers and no crew change in the ports of these countries in the meantime,” POEA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said in his report to Baldoz.

    The guidelines provide that it shall be the responsibility of the ship master and/or the designated ship medical officer to report any case involving a crew who becomes symptomatic of EVD.

    The POEA had requested principals/employers and manning agencies to consider and disseminate, as a matter of urgency, recommendations made by the International Maritime Employers’ Council, International Transport Workers’ Federation and International Chamber of Shipping.

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