PH to evacuate nationals in Ebola-hit countries

Paterno Esmaquel II
PH to evacuate nationals in Ebola-hit countries
More than 1,200 Filipinos live in Ebola-stricken West African countries

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Monday, October 13, announced it is set to evacuate its nationals in Ebola-stricken West African countries as more people died due to the Ebola epidemic.

In a statement, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines is preparing to raise alert level 3 over Ebola-affected countries in West Africa “effective mid-November 2014.”

This alert level entails voluntary repatriation. Under this set-up, the Philippine government shoulders the cost of coming home.

Del Rosario’s announcement came as the death toll from Ebola passed 4,000, according to the World Health Organization.

“The Philippine government is undertaking all necessary measures to protect the health and preserve the well-being of our nationals in keeping with the established protocols on managing the Ebola virus disease,” Del Rosario said.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said Ebola remains a “paramount concern” because of the number of Filipinos working overseas – 10 million so far.

1,200 Filipinos at stake

To protect its nationals in affected countries, the Philippines earlier raised alert level 2 over Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone because of the Ebola outbreak.

The DFA said under alert level 2, Filipinos in affected countries “are instructed to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and take extra precautions.”

The Philippines will allow only overseas Filipino workers with existing employment contracts to go to these 3 countries, the DFA added.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas estimates that more than 1,200 Filipinos live in the 3 affected countries, with the following breakdown: 

  • Guinea – 236

  • Liberia – 462

  • Sierra Leone – 514

The Philippines is considering other moves to stop the spread of the deadly disease. One of these is possibly to send health workers to affected West African countries.

Philippine Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the country will decide on this after Aquino discusses the matter with key officials.

The Ebola virus, which can be transmitted through bodily fluids, causes severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, it also causes organ failure and unstoppable bleeding. It can kill victims in just days. (READ: Fast Facts: Ebola– with reports from Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.