By Jun Ramirez
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been instructed to wear complete personal protective equipment (PPE) when attending to passengers of special flights in and out of the country to protect them from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the reminder amid the upsurge in the number of repatriation and sweeper flights arriving and departing at the NAIA in the past several days.
“It is very important that our officers are protected against the virus when attending to these special flights, especially since there are COVID-19 cases in the country already,” Morente said.
The BI chief said the bureau is anticipating a surge in passenger volume at the NAIA and other international airports and seaports after the government decides to lift the enhanced community quarantine.
“I don’t want our officers to get sick. Thus, we are implementing measures to ensure the health and safety of our frontliners,” Morente said.
BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said he already issued a memorandum reiterating that immigration officers attending special flights should wear PPE, including face masks, face shields, and gloves.
To ensure that risks are lessened, Medina said that repatriated passengers are processed from a distance by Immigration officers. Passports and travel documents are also being sanitized by airline representatives before processing.
He added that BI officers were told to wash their hands with soap and alcohol after attending the special flights and before returning to their counter duties.
Medina said the wearing of PPE sets is especially critical whenever BI officers process passengers of repatriation flights from countries with high numbers of COVID-19 cases.