By Ferdinand Patinio
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it will seek the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to shorten the quarantine period of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially for those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Usually our vacationing OFWs are given one month vacation. If you put them under quarantine for a maximum of 10 days, those days have been lost but should have been spent with their families. My recommendation especially for those that have been vaccinated after they arrive, have them tested, if they are negative send them to their home provinces,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a virtual presser.
He added that if there are moves to give investors lesser days under quarantine, there is no reason why it cannot be provided to OFWs.
“If you can do that with investors, our OFWs, they have bigger investments, you are talking of billions they are giving the economy. Hopefully, the IATF will hear us. They can lower it from 10 five days, that’s okay with me,” he said.
Under the present protocol, when the OFW arrives, he/she will be quarantined. On the seventh day, he/she will undergo swab testing and wait for the results. Those who test negative can only be transported to their home provinces on the 10th day.
Upon arrival, the OFWs will continue their quarantine period.
“For me, that is too long,” Bello added.
Bello is expected to present the recommendation to the IATF during their meeting on Thursday.
On the other hand, Bello defended OFWs against those blaming them as the cause of Covid-19 transmission in the country.
“Of those 580,000 OFW returnees, not close to less than one percent has contracted Covid-19. So why would you blame them for the supposed transmission? So why do you attribute the spread of the virus to our OFWs? There is no legal, moral, factual basis to attribute to our OFWs the transmission of the virus. This is the only time we will be able to pay back our modern-day heroes,” he added. (PNA)