PH officials reaching out to Filipinos in virus-stricken Hubei province
Marje Pelayo • January 28, 2020 • 680
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine officials in China are closely coordinating with the Filipinos in China especially those stranded in cities locked down due to the outbreak of novel Coronavirus.
In an interview with UNTV’s Good Morning Kuya, First Secretary Raphael Hermoso of the Philippine Embassy in Beijing said they have already contacted one of the four Filipinos registered workers in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The Filipino, a student in Central China Normal University, confirmed to the Embassy that he is in good condition, according to Hermoso.
The official said they are enforcing strict health measures in the Embassy and all consulates across China to help prevent the infection.
“Ini-impose natin ang (We are imposing the) ‘no mask, no entry’ (policy) and temperature check,” Hermoso assured.
“Mag self-quarantine kung may nararamdaman na, (We advise Filipinos to self-quarantine if they feel the symptoms) na then (contact us) and we will address the situation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has advised Filipinos in China “to take necessary precautions and follow the advice from local health authorities in their areas.”
Consulate officials are already in touch with around 150 Filipinos in Wuhan City and has requested Filipino community leaders to provide assistance to those on tour or holders of short-time visit.
“We are hoping na hindi na po lumala ang (We are hoping the outbreak will not go out of hand.) Of course, our Philippine Embassy and Consulate will be ready to assist our Kababayans,” Hermoso assured.
The UNTV was able to contact Filipino worker Shaukeen Canas in Jingzhou City in Hubei Province.
Jingzhou City is among the 20 cities currently on lockdown.
Canas said he immediately packed his things upon hearing of the nCoV outbreak.
But when he reached the Jingzhou Train Station, service was shut down and no passengers were allowed inside the station.
“Hindi kami nakasakay. Na-close na kami, (We weren’t able to board. It was already closed,)” Canas said.
When they returned to the hotel they were staying, almost all employees have gone out.
Canas was able to film the empty streets in Jingzhou where establishments and houses were all closed.
“Lahat sarado po ng establishment para pong (All establishments are now closed), it’s like a ghost town,” she described.
Shaukeen fears for their health given the increasing number of people infected by the novel coronavirus.
She calls on Philippine representatives in China for assistance to immediately leave the virus-stricken area.
The UNTV News Team has forwarded Shaukeen’s number to the Philippine Consulate office in Bejing for assistance. – MNP (with inputs from Victor Cosare)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.
Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”
CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.
The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)
As Sharif Uddin begins to dream about leaving the cramped Singapore dormitory where he has spent weeks under coronavirus quarantine, fears about his future are creeping in.
The 42-year-old Bangladeshi construction site supervisor is one of the thousands of low-income migrant workers trapped in packed bunk rooms that have been ravaged by the coronavirus, accounting for more than 90% of Singapore’s 38,000 infections.
As Singapore began easing its lockdown measures this month, migrants like Uddin started to think about returning to the outside world, bringing to the surface worries about jobs and debts as Singapore braces for its deepest-ever recession.
“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said Uddin, who sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh, like many of the South Asians working in manual jobs in Singapore.
For most migrant workers, at least part of their salaries is used to pay off the steep fees of the agent who helped procure the job.
Reuters has interviewed over a dozen migrant workers in Singapore in recent weeks. While many said they were still being paid, they were unsure if they will retain their jobs when the quarantine is lifted.
The Singapore government has given companies tax breaks to try and ensure migrants get paid while under quarantine and introduced measures to help laid off workers find new positions without having to first travel back to their home country, a core complaint of many labourers.
Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters that the government had taken steps to help alleviate the concerns of workers around job security, but added that layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.
“There may be some contractors who might decide – well despite all the government measures, with the new arrangements, the new additional requirements in construction, it is very difficult and I might not want to continue in this industry – and then indeed they might release some of their workers,” said Wong, who is also the minister for national development.
He added that some workers may remain quarantined in their dormitories until August, or possibly beyond, as the government completes mass testing.
The pandemic has drawn attention to the stark inequalities in the modern city-state where more than 300,000 labourers from Bangladesh, India and China often live in rooms for 12 to 20 men, working jobs that pay as little as S$20 ($14.30) a day.
That is higher than they would make at home. But the median salary for Singaporeans in 2019 was S$4,563 per month, according to the manpower ministry.
The bigger worry for many migrants like Uddin is the debts they have racked up securing jobs in Singapore.
Migrants will usually be charged S$7,000-10,000 in fees by a recruitment agent in their home country, equivalent to more than a year of their basic salary, according to rights groups. If they lose their job, this debt could haunt their families for years.
“An indebted worker is a more compliant worker and that is what the employers like. That is one reason too that employers prefer to have new workers, than to retain old workers,” said Deborah Fordyce, president of Singapore NGO Transient Workers Count Too.
Wong, the minister, said the government will continue to work to improve migrants’ lives in Singapore, but tackling issues like fees is difficult because many agents operate in the workers’ home countries outside the city-state’s jurisdiction.
Singapore’s government has pledged to improve living conditions for migrant workers in the short-term and build new, higher-spec dormitories over the coming years. (Reuters)
(Production: Pedja Stanisic, Joseph Campbell, Edgar Su, Travis Teo)
MANILA, Philippines — National Task Force Against Covid-19 chairperson and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday (May 24) said that Metro Manila may possibly be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) in June.
With this, Metro Manila residents may expect more relaxed quarantine restrictions to be implemented next month.
Lorenzana said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has been discussing the readiness of the capital region for it to be transitioned to GCQ from the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
“More likely mag-gi-GCQ na tayo by June 1,” the defense chief said.
He added that areas that still have novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases will remain under their control.
“Ang pinag-uusapan namin sa IATF, eh mag-GCQ, pero ‘yung mga areas na meron pa ring… mga infection baka ‘yun na lang ang ikontrol ng konti,” Lorenzana said.
The areas that will be placed under GCQ are those that are considered to be at low risk of COVID-19. With this, more industries will be allowed to operate.
Lorenzana insists that although recorded COVID-19 cases has been going down everyday, quarantine measures must remain to prevent the second wave of the infection.
“We would like to impress in our people ‘yung self-discipline, para masanay sila na ito na ‘yung new normal, na social distancing, wearing of face mask, sanitation,” the official said.
Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. has earlier mentioned about the planned “zoning concept” or the measure that will limit the implementation of a lockdown in an area based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. —(with details from Victor Cosare) /mbmf
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