Covid cases among Filipinos abroad rise; 180 bodies due this week
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday 23 new confirmed Covid-19 cases among Filipinos abroad were reported, with two new recoveries and two new deaths in the Middle East, to bring the total deaths among overseas Filipinos (OFs) in 53 countries to 508.
This, as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is targeting to start the repatriation of the remains of 180 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) this week.
Total recovery for OFs is 8,324, while those undergoing treatment is 2,759, out of 5,057 who have been discharged.
Regional comparative data show that the total number of recorded Covid-19 cases in the Middle East comprise 73 percent of the total confirmed cases across the main geographic regions.
Moreover, a large percentage of the recorded recoveries and deaths in Filipinos abroad were reported from the same region.
As it celebrated its 122nd Founding Anniversary, the DFA, together with its Foreign Service Posts, said it remains unwavering and relentless in serving and assisting the Filipino people, especially during these challenging times. The DFA and the DOLE have borne the brunt of the frenzied repatriations of thousands of OFs since the pandemic began, sometimes being caught in the middle between workers desperate to return as they lose jobs and are exposed to Covid-19 risks abroad, and, on the other hand, local authorities who keep a tight lid on inbound flights so as to better manage the testing and quarantine challenge posed by returning Filipinos.
On Tuesday, the DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) Director Alice Visperas said DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are now negotiating for the chartered flights, which will retrieve the remains.
“Hopefully, this week we could start the repatriation,” Visperas said in an SMS, citing reports of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).
This is in compliance with the instruction of the Saudi government for the remains to be repatriated within 72 hours.
The DFA is appealing to have the deadline extended because of the difficulty of chartering flights to KSA due to its travel restrictions.