137 Pinoys in US die of COVID
During the Laging Handa televised press briefing, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said 253 Filipinos in the US and Caribbean countries have contracted the disease. Among the fatalities were 40 Filipino-American health workers in New York and New Jersey.
AFP/Karen Ducey
137 Pinoys in US die of COVID
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 137 Filipinos in the United States, including 18 medical frontliners, have died of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Philippine embassy in Washington reported yesterday.

During the Laging Handa televised press briefing, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said 253 Filipinos in the US and Caribbean countries have contracted the disease. Among the fatalities were 40 Filipino-American health workers in New York and New Jersey.

“There are Filipino frontliners here who carry the heavy tasks in fighting the coronavirus. The Americans are really appreciative of Filipino health workers here in the United States,” Romualdez said.

The embassy is providing assistance to stranded Filipino J1 interns and exchange visitors whose programs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have made representations with the visa sponsors, local placement agencies in the Philippines and the US Department of State to help craft a concerted and considerate response to the J1 interns’ situation in the short- and medium-term,” Romualdez said.

Apart from processing and endorsing J1 interns’ requests for government funding assistance, he said the embassy and consulates general also provide guidance and advice; intercede with sponsors, local agencies, even landlords and leasing companies; and facilitate temporary shelter arrangements, if needed, when interns arrive in the Philippines.

The Philippine government, he said, believes it advisable for affected J1 interns to return home.

“There is a great risk associated with remaining in the United States during this challenging and unpredictable time without a source of income, support system, safe and stable accommodations and medical insurance coverage,” he said.

The pre-departure orientation seminar for Filipino exchange visitors, Romualdez said, emphasizes the importance of having access to contingency funds in case they find themselves in emergency situations and would be required to immediately return to the Philippines.

The embassy advised interns without financial capacity to cover airfare and daily subsistence to request government funding assistance. Such requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, given the thousands of overseas Filipinos in distress who require assistance and support and the constraints on government resources.

The State Department has allowed the extension of programs and for sponsors to allow J1 interns to resume their internship and training once the situation in the US normalizes or improves to a degree that the industries would be able to continue with the programs.

PLA donation

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has donated P1.4 million worth of medical supplies to the Philippines, the defense department said yesterday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the donations from China’s military were flown by PLA’s Air Force cargo plane to the country Monday evening.

“I was the one who received the donation from Ambassador Huang Xilian,” Lorenzana said.

Witnessing the turnover were other defense and security officials including Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Ricardo Jalad, Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief of staff Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr. and Philippine Air Force commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes.

The donations, mostly personal protective equipment (PPE) worth 200,000 yuan or around P1.4 million, will be part of the inventory of the OCD that supports the need of all government hospitals and some private ones.

The PPE sets are composed of 50,000 medical disposable masks, 6,000 medical surgical masks, 6,000 KN95 medical protective masks, as well as 4,200 medical protective goggles and 3,000 face shields, 3,000 protective coveralls, 3,000 water proof isolation gowns and 6,000 pairs of medical boots.

Other items handed over to the OCD for inventory and distribution were 50 boxes of disposable nitrile gloves, 30 infusion pumps, two 16-liter knapsack disinfection sprayers, 50 infrared forehead thermometers and two thermal imaging helmets. – Jaime Laude

COVID-19
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