MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – More than 600 stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are now allowed to go back to their jobs in all of mainland China except Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced this late Thursday, March 12, after approving the recommendations under Resolution No. 11, Series of 2020 of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.
The lifting of the ban is only for returning OFWs and Filipino government officials on official duty to mainland China.
OFWs who wish to return to mainland China will be allowed to fly there upon signing a declaration “signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved,” according to the IATF resolution.
They should also present a valid visa, work permit, and overseas employment certificate.
OFWs on first-time deployment, their dependents, students, and tourists are still prohibited from traveling to mainland China, the Department of Foreign Affairs clarified on Sunday, March 15.
President Duterte read from the resolution submitted by the task force, with the premise that he would turn the resolution into an executive order to make it enforceable.
A health advisory pamphlet will be also given to the OFWs upon their departure from the Philippines.
The Philippines had imposed a travel ban on China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau after the cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by 2019-nCoV – started spreading worldwide.
The Philippines already allowed OFWs to return to their jobs in Macau and Hong Kong on February 18.
Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei province in China, is the epicenter of the new disease which has infected more than 80,700 people and killed at least 3,169.
Another 37 Filipinos are COVID-19 patients abroad, including Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Japan (passengers of the M/V Diamond Princess) and the United States (passengers of the M/V Grand Princess). – Rappler.com