Qatar, Kuwait travel limits due to coronavirus to affect 3,000 OFWs – POEA
MANILA, Philippines — As much as 3,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be affected by Qatar and Kuwait’s travel suspension on individuals coming from the Philippines and 13 other countries over threats of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) head Bernard Olalia said this during Monday’s Senate economic affairs hearing on the impact risk assessment of COVID-19, which was caused by the virus called SARS-CoV-2 – as named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
“Kuwait and Qatar declared already a temporary suspension of entry coming from 14 countries, included po ang (includeing the) Philippines, so as we speak po hindi po makakapunta ngayon ‘yung mga OFWs natin sa Qatar at saka sa Kuwait (our OFWs can no longer go to Qatar and Kuwait),” Olalia said.
“Hundreds po ang umaalis [na OFWs] every day. More or less, for January and February last year po – if you compare the data – there are more than 2,000 to 3,000 OFWs [that] will be affected because of this temporary suspension of entry to these two countries,” the POEA head also said.
(Hundreds of OFWs leave everyday. More or less, for January and February 2019 – if you compare the data – there are more then 2,000 to 3,000 that will be affected because of this temporary suspension of entry to these two countries.)
Panel chair Senator Imee Marcos asked Olalia what could be the options or alternative employment for the affected Filipino workers.
To which the POEA official said: “We are in the process of contacting ‘yung (the) employers po through our private recruitment agencies with respect to Qatar and Kuwait.”
But the senator further asked, “Is there a plan? Seeing that there will be a downturn in the deployment and even those who have already been deployed and could not go back, ano ho ang gagawin natin sa mga OFWs na hindi makakabalik sa trabaho (what are we going to do about these OFWs that can no longer go back to their jobs)?”
Olalia replied by saying the Department of Labor and Employment, as well as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, will extend help to the affected OFWs through livelihood programs.
The governments of Qatar and Kuwait have imposed a temporary suspension of entry on travelers coming from 14 countries, including the Philippines, which has so far recorded 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Philippines under a state of public health emergency, following the recommendation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
According to Duque, the declaration of a state of public health emergency will “facilitate mobilization of resources, ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies, and intensifying reporting.”
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