MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said the government is preparing for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from countries that are affected by the deadly Ebola virus.
“The government is undertaking all necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of our nationals or citizens in keeping with the established protocols on managing the Ebola virus disease. This [move]includes preparations for raising to level 3 the crisis alert level for the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa effective mid-November 2014,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a news briefing.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) plans to raise alert level 3, or voluntary repatriation, in Ebola-hit West African countries by mid-November.
The three countries are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the department needs about a month to prepare for requests of Filipinos there to be repatriated.
Coloma said the DFA and Labor department are closely monitoring the situation in West Africa where there are 1,755 Filipinos.
“Our government is fully committed and firmly determined to prevent the onset or spread of the Ebola virus disease, and is undertaking all the necessary precautions and preventive measures that will protect our citizens from this disease,” he added.
The disease was reported to be worst in Liberia where 2,316 had already died out of 4,024 confirmed cases.
Coloma said Filipinos who will be brought home will be screened to ensure that the deadly virus does not spread here.
“It is important to undertake quarantine procedures to ensure the screening of Filipinos who are to be repatriated. They must be free from the symptoms of Ebola such as flu, cough and colds, weakening and others,” he added.
The DFA, meanwhile, said the government will have to prepare for land arrangements and transfers and flight schedules for Filipinos who will be sent home.
“We are giving ourselves a month to make sure all mechanisms are in place for agencies here. They’ll be ready to receive our nationals. Also for the DFA, keep in mind that we don’t have an embassy in these [Ebola-hit] countries so to be able to operationalize these plans, we should have people there on the ground,” Jose said.
He added that most of the Filipinos in those three countries have signified their intention to stay there.
“But the situation is not getting any better so, if there are Filipinos who think their situation is not that safe and they would like to come back, then we should be able to help them,” Jose said.
WITH BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON