DOLE negotiates repatriation of remains of 282 OFWs in Saudi Arabia
Marje Pelayo • June 23, 2020 • 368
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is expediting the process of repatriating the remains of 282 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died in Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said most of them died from natural causes, while a total of 50 OFWs succumbed to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Bello said they are coordinating with the families of the dead OFWs on whether they still want the bodies repatriated or let the Embassy in Saudi Arabia bury the bodies there.
Bello, meanwhile, said that they would rather not repatriate the bodies of the COVID-19 fatalities as they pose a higher risk of infection, especially on the family members. He was quick to add, though, that the decision still lies on the relatives.
“Iyon pong mga kababayan natin na hindi sinuwerte at namatay dahil sa COVID, pinag-a-aralan po natin na baka mas mabuti na lang kung doon na lang ilibing kasi baka ma-contaminate pa at magkaroon pa ng transmission sa kanilang kamag-anak,” Bello explained adding that cremation is not allowed in Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, Bello assured the bereaved families that they will receive the separation pay of their departed loved ones, as well as the burial benefits and claims from the Social Security System (SSS).
Secretary Bello noted the Saudi government’s understanding and allowed more time for Labor officials to process a chartered flight for the remains.
However, he stressed that one of the struggles that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and DOLE face abroad is reaching the OFWs especially in delivering relief or food assistance due to strict lockdown measures being imposed in their respective host countries.
Additionally, the operations in the Embassy in Riyadh have been affected after seven of its staff contracted COVID-19.
Nevertheless, Bello said they are grateful that the Embassy is receiving help from the Filipino community there.
“Ang opisina natin at Embahada ang nagbibigay ng pagkain pero sa pag-distribute ay Filipino community na [Our office and the Embassy provide the food packages but the Filipino community distributes them],” he assured. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (July 3) vetoed parts of a law that would have made wearing a face mask obligatory in enclosed spaces where large groups gather, as swathes of Brazil struggle to tame new infections of the coronavirus.
“Today there were various vetoes for legislation that spoke of the obligatory use of face masks, including inside the home. I vetoed (them). No one is going to enter a home and give a fine. I could also have got a fine because I am now without a mask,” he said.
Bolsonaro has regularly flouted social distancing guidelines advised by most health experts, shaking hands and embracing supporters. He has said publicly that his past as an athlete makes him immune to the worst symptoms of the virus.
He has also been widely criticised by health experts for downplaying the severity of the virus which he has dismissed as just “a little flu.” Bolsonaro has pressured governors and mayors for months to reverse lockdown measures and reopen the economy.
Bolsonaro’s veto comes as Brazil nears 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.
Brazil has the world’s second largest outbreak after the United States and the virus has killed over 60,000 people in the country.
In Rio alone, more than 6,600 people have died of COVID-19 in the past four months. Only 14 countries in the world have a death toll higher than the city. Intensive care units in public hospitals are at 70% capacity.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and worst-hit city, is expected to open bars and restaurants next week. (Reuters)
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MANILA, Philippines – Following the spike of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among personnel of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the management of Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) has decided to stop manual ticket dispensing in all its stations.
This is to prevent physical contact and COVID-19 transmission among ticket sellers and commuters.
Instead, all LRT-2 passengers will have to use the ticket vending machines to acquire a ticket.
According to LRTA Spokesperson Atty. Hernando Cabrera, manual ticket selling is not part of LRT-2’s plan upon the resumption of their operations on June 1 but the full use of their ticket vending machines.
“What we did is we start with small stations, This is what is happening now. Talagang lahat na ng istasyon, maliit o malaki, ticket vending machines na ang ginagamit natin wala nang selling sa teller [In all stations, we use ticket vending machines already and no tellers anymore],” Cabrera.
But the LRTA clarified that while the ticket sellers were unloaded of their ticket selling functions, they may still provide passenger assistance such as help for senior citizens and technical problems with ticket dispensing among other concerns.
All single journey tickets will be disinfected before they return to circulation, according to Cabrera.
“At the end of the day kapag nakolekta na namin lahat ng single journey ticket dadalhin namin sa depot and then ika-quarantine namin sila for 72 hours,” Cabrera said.
[At the end of the day once we collected all single-journey tickets, we will bring them to the Depot for quarantine for 72 hours.]
“By that time, based sa study ay patay na yung virus, saka palang namin sila irere encode and then ibabalik ulit sa sikulasyon,” he added.
[By that time, based on the study that the virus is eliminated, that’s the time we will re-encode and bring them back to circulation.]
At present, LRT-2 has recorded two confirmed COVID-19 cases among its personnel and undergoing quarantine.
Both patients were office-based and no exposures to passengers. —MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)
Two areas in San Juan City are placed under lockdown due to the high number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.
C. Santos Street in Barangay Balong Bato and J. Eustaquio Street in Barangay Proseso are considered critical zones by the local government of San Juan after a total of 13 COVID-19 cases were recorded.
Seven are from C. Santos Street while six are from J. Eustaquio Street. The two areas will be under lockdown from July 7 to July 22.
Based on National Task Force on Covid-19 Memorandum Circular No. 2, “a street shall be categorized as CrZ (Critical Zone) if at least two (2) cluster of cases, composed of either suspect, probable and/or confirmed COVID-19, are present in different houses, buildings or establishments along a specified street.”
The local government has provided assistance to 255 households affected by the lockdown, while police are deployed to monitor lockdown violators.
Meanwhile, San Juan’s Agora Market will remain closed until July 15 after 23 employees and vendors tested positive for COVID-19. The said market is now under disinfection and sanitation procedure.
As of July 8, the San Juan local government recorded a total of 481 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 134 active cases, 300 recoveries, and 47 deaths.
Based on the report, there is a spike in the daily number of new cases from June 27 compared to the recorded cases from June 15 to June 26. –AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)
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