Coronavirus pandemic forces over 12,000 Filipino workers to return to PH

Sofia Tomacruz

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Coronavirus pandemic forces over 12,000 Filipino workers to return to PH
(UPDATED) The bulk of repatriated Filipinos come from cruise ships which have been stranded due to travel restrictions and port closures worldwide

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine government has repatriated 12,144 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as of Sunday, April 12, as countries all over the world struggle to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Latest numbers from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) show majority of Filipinos repatriated were seafarers, with the Philippines supplying the largest share of labor on cargo ships across the globe.

Majority of Filipinos who were brought back home were stranded aboard cruise ships and various countries due to travel restrictions in place to quell the spread of COVID-19.

To date, more than 9,000 seafarers have arrived in the Philippines since February.

In a series of repatriations done in the week of April 5 to 12 alone, over 4,700 seafarers returned home. They include:

April 5

  • 322 crew from Costa Diadema and Costa Victoria 

April 6

  • 599 crew from cruise ships Carnival Dream, Fantasy, Glory, Panorama, and Vista  

April 7

  • 179 from Carnival Conquest, Ecstasy, Fascination, Legend, and Magic
  • 278 from Carnival Horizon, Magic, Ecstasy Conquest, and Sunshine 
  • 24 from Scenic Eclipse 
  • 58 from Carnival Panorama  

April 7 to 8

  • 125 from MS Amadea 

April 8

  • 139 from MS Amera
  • 152 from Carnival Liberty, Magic, Sunshine 

April 9

  • 439 from Norwegian Joy, Regent Splendor 
  • 47 from Norwegian Jewel 

April 10

  • 440 from Norwegian Pearl, Sky, and Sun 
  • 450 from Carnival Fantasy, Freedom, Glory, Legend, and Valor
  • 275 from MV Aurora and MV Oceania 
  • 265 from Norwegian Jewel, MS Albatros, MV Viking Star, Carnival cruises Ecstasy, Horizon, Legend, and Sunrise
  • 16 from Mystic cruises MS World Explorer from Lisbon, Portugal

April 11

  • 246 from Ventura 
  • 208 from Norwegian Jade  

April 12 

  • 290 from Oceania Cruises MS Sirena, Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, and Norwegian Cruise Line ships Encore and Dawn
  • 208 seafarers from Nautica, Norwegian Jade, and Seven Seas Voyager

The government’s coronavirus task force on Sunday urged local government units to allow ships to dock so that more Filipinos stranded on ships can disembark and go back to their families.

Aside from the seafarers, more than 3,000 land-based Filipino workers have returned to the Philippines since early February. In the week of April 6 alone, over 1,000 OFWs arrived back in the country from the following areas:  

April 6

  • 23 from Doha, Qatar

April 7

  • 644 from Kuwait

April 8

  • 9 from Osaka, Japan

April 9

  • 303 from Kuwait

April 12

  • 33 from Indonesia

The DFA gave assurances that all returning Filipinos will undergo 14-day quarantines, supervised by the Bureau of Quarantine.

The Department of Labor and Employment earlier announced that regular and documented OFWs, certain undocumented OFWs, and balik-manggagawa or OFWs who cannot return to their host country because of the Philippines’ ongoing lockdown will be eligible to receive P10,000 in government assistance.

The Philippines has so far confirmed 4,648 cases of the coronavirus, with 297 deaths and 197 recoveries.

The global death toll due to the virus has exceeded 109,000, while over 1.7 million people have been infected in more than 190 countries and territories. – 

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.