By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Tuesday confirmed that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) off to Taiwan will not be allowed to leave the country as they are covered by the temporary travel ban imposed due to the threat of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory (2019-nCoV).
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, in a text message to Manila Bulletin, confirmed that all OFWs to Taiwan “will not be allowed to leave” the country following the recent announcement of the Department of Health (DOH) that Taiwan is covered by the temporary travel ban.
Olalia also said that there are “no exemptions” to the ban “as of the moment.”
Meanwhile, Olalia said in a radio interview that POEA will also temporarily suspend the processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OECs) of OFWs to Taiwan. The POEA has already directed agencies to inform employers of OFWs who are scheduled to leave that there will be a delay in their travel because of the travel ban. Those scheduled to leave for Taiwan were allowed to do so prior to DOH’s formal announcement.
Olalia added that OFWs who are scheduled to come home for a vacation will be allowed to enter the country. As a precautionary measure, they must undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed by the Philippine government.
In a press briefing on Feb. 10, DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said Taiwan is included in the temporary travel restriction because the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it as part of China.
Meanwhile, the number of fatalities and people infected with nCoV continues to increase, with over a thousand deaths and almost 43,000 confirmed cases worldwide.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Dashboard data on the virus, there are 42,966 confirmed cases with 1,018 reported deaths in 25 countries as of Feb. 11, 06:00 Central European Time (CET).
In the Philippines, Department of Health (DOH) 2019-nCOV tracker data as of noon on Feb. 11 12 showed that the number of persons under investigation (PUIs) for possible nCov infection has increased to 382. Of this number, 266 PUIs are admitted in hospitals and 111 have been discharged.