MANILA, Philippines – With the alarming number of mortality case due to Ebola outbreak, the Philippine government’s inter-agency task force has agreed to temporarily stop the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to African countries which are at risk of the dreaded virus.
According to the data of the World Health Organization (WHO), at present, a total of 887 Ebola-related deaths have been reported in West Africa countries including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In the Philippines, different government agencies namely the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) continue doing efforts to monitor the status of OFWs in the three countries.
Secretary Enrique Ona of the Department of Health assured the public that the Philippines remains Ebola-free, but nevertheless, concerned agencies are keeping a close eye on five of the 15 OFWs who have arrived from Sierra Leone from June 26 to July 15.
Dr. Socorro Lupisan, the director at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), shared that OFWs who show signs and symptoms of the virus will immediately be tested and treated.
“Those who are symptomatic will be brought to (RITM) negative pressure rooms. Blood samples will be taken and we will test (them) for Ebola. We will have results within two days,” Lupisan shared.
Nini Lanto, the director for OFW health concerns of Philippine Overseas Employment Association (POEA), said that as for OFWs who remain in the three countries affected, the agency are tapping employers to report to them the status of their employees.
“For those already there, we are requiring the agencies deploying workers to these countries to strictly and closely monitor the status of their workers deployed to their respective employers and to report to us in a weekly basis,” Lanto said.
Lorenzo Jungco, DFA Special Assistant for the Office of Migrant Workers, confirms that the agency is doing its part to handle the situation, by disseminating information to OFWs about the virus, particularly on prevention measures to observe.
Jungco added that the inter-agency task force is working together in order to assure containment and prevent spread of infection in the countries inflicted.
“The primordial objective of the Philippine government is to ensure the health and well-being of Filipinos,” he said.