At least 5,000 migrant Filipino workers are still in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, although more than 19,000 of the stranded 24,000 have been sent home, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Friday.
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“We are just short by about 5,000 who are still waiting to be transported to accomplish what we were tasked to do. As of last night, we were able to facilitate sending home 19,010 [workers],” Bello said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered local executives to attend to the hospitalization of Filipinos found positive for COVID-19, and promised to shoulder the cost.
“This is really an order of the national government to the local governments: Help, do not deny, and you must expedite the hospitalization until he is cured. No problem about payment, I will pay,” Duterte said.
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In Eastern Visayas, a migrant worker and four others have tested positive for COVID-19, the Health department said.
Patient EV-36, a 31-year-old male from Hilongos, Leyte, was a cruise ship worker who arrived in Tacloban City via an airplane on May 25.
The Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, meanwhile, earlier recorded 11 COVID-19 cases in the region.
Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan said these new cases were among the 16 students from Cebu who availed themselves of the national government’s offer to take them home.
Bello said the remaining workers still in quarantine facilities would be sent home next week.
Earlier, Duterte gave Labor officials one week to send home some 24,000 repatriated workers stuck for weeks on cruise ships or in coronavirus quarantines in Metro Manila.
The move to expedite sending them home was triggered by Duterte’s threat to reshuffle the Labor department if the workers remained in quarantine facilities despite having certificates of good health.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte had received complaints about the plight of workers still waiting for their coronavirus test results in quarantine and isolation centers.
“The President agrees that all [workers] must undergo testing, but it’s unacceptable that the process is taking too long and is preventing them from going home,” Roque said.
According to Bello, those who have already been sent home include 5,000 of the 8,000 sea-based workers from the 26 cruise ships docked on Manila Bay.
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“Some 5,000 seafarers have been sent home already. They are included in the 24,000,” Bello said.
His department has apologized for the unwarranted suffering of the 24,000 workers.
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