MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday, May 17, said some repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) escaped from quarantine facilities and were later found to be positive for the coronavirus.
In an interview with Dobol B sa News TV, PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said the OFWs escaped from hotels and could be with their families already.
“May mga nakatakas diyan sa mga hotel na iyan at ang masama nito, lumabas ang resulta na positive sila,” he said. “Ngayon nandoon sila sa bahay nila, nakahalubilo ang pamilya, iyong community.”
(They escaped from hotels and what’s worse is that the results showed they are positive for the virus. Now they’re at home, mingling with their families, and their community.)
He did not say how many OFWs escaped and did not provide further details about these workers.
Balilo said authorities are now searching for the OFWs and investigating whether hotel employees helped them escape. They could be charged with violating the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Only one tests positive
In an update on Monday, May 18, Balilo told Rappler that only one of the 8 OFWs who snuck out had tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
The Sub-Task Group for the Repatriation of OFWs was able to find him on Sunday at his residence with his family.
Balido said that the 49-year-old OFW was taken back into custody and brought to the quarantine facility. He’s not considered arrested, Balido added.
The OFW’s family members and other persons with whom he had personal contact were put in isolation and are now undergoing COVID-19 RT-PCR testing, Balilo said.
Balilo told Rappler the OFW did not exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus disease.
“He’s repentant and he regrets going home because now his family has to be tested, too,” Balido said.
The 8 OFWs were briefed on general quarantine protocols, underwent swab test, and signed an “Affidavit of Undertaking” which states they voluntarily submit themselves to mandatory quarantine and commit to comply with quarantine measures while waiting for the release of their swab test results and BOQ clearances.
Balilo called on OFWs currently quarantined to be patient and follow the protocols.
“Kaunting tiis po. I-honor natin iyong quarantine facility, iyong proseso para sa gano’n ay maiwasan natin ang pagkalat ng coronavirus,” he said.
(Just have a little bit of patience. Let’s honor the process in the quarantine facility so we can prevent the spread of the coronavirus.)
President Rodrigo Duterte on May 4 urged local officials to allow repatriated OFWs, who already went through the required 14-day quarantine period and tested negative for the virus, to return to their homes.
From May 2 to 15, at least 22,698 land-based and sea-based OFWs underwent testing for COVID-19.
Two more passenger vessels have been commissioned by the Department of Transportation to serve as quarantine ships, while another COVID-19 treatment facility is now open at the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal in Pier 15.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has 12,513 coronavirus cases, with 824 deaths and 2,635 recoveries. – Rappler.com
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