Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Filipino workers appeared to be no longer in a rush to leave the country even after the lifting of the travel ban in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
STAR/File
OFW deployment suffers drop – DOLE
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday a slowdown in the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in China and other countries.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Filipino workers appeared to be no longer in a rush to leave the country even after the lifting of the travel ban in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

“They are probably taking precautions if there are COVID cases in the countries where they are going. Since they have received financial assistance, they would rather wait until the situation improves,” Bello said.

He said there were OFWs who opted to delay their departure for Hong Kong even if they have plane tickets.

“They decided not to leave immediately since their employers have extended their vacation leave,” he said.

Bello also said it is up to the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases headed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to recommend the imposition of a travel ban in South Korea where cases of COVID-19 are increasing.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in South Korea has not recommended a travel ban, Bello said.

He added the DOLE is not inclined to recommend the lifting of the travel ban in China.

One of three Filipino workers in United Arab Emirates who tested positive for COVID-19 has recovered from the disease, according to Bello.

“The two others remain confined in a hospital in UAE,” he said.

Sick leave credits

Government officials and employees who will undergo self-quarantine for 14 days after they have traveled to China and other COVID-infected countries should charge their absences to sick leave credits.

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) reiterated its call for government agencies to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in the workplace.

The CSC released guidelines on the use of leave credits due to quarantine and treatment relative to COVID-19.

State workers who have history of travel to China as well as Macau and Hong Kong are required to undergo self-quarantine at home or any health facility for 14 days upon arrival in the Philippines.

“They should not report back to work unless the self-quarantine period has elapsed or they are cleared to go back to work by proper health authorities,” the CSC said.

Their absences related to the prescribed 14-day self-quarantine will not be deducted from their leave credits.

The CSC explained that if the employees are diagnosed with COVID-19 during the 14-day quarantine period, the absences shall be charged to their sick leave credits.

For public officials and employees who have to take care of family members positive with COVID-19, absence from work shall also be charged against their sick leave credits.

Sen. Richard Gordon pointed out the need to provide face masks and other protective gear to frontliners who respond to the threat of COVID-19.

Gordon, who chairs the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), donated 25,000 face masks to employees of the Bureau of Customs.

He said Customs personnel assigned at the airports are directly in contact with possible carriers of the coronavirus.

Customs Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero thanked the PRC for the donation.   – With Michael Punongbayan, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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