By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine Embassy in Moscow is currently housing several overseas Filipinos who were affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pending their repatriation, Ambassador Carlos Soreta said on Friday.
In a phone patch interview at the regular Laging Handa briefing of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), Soreta said repatriation would take place as soon as commercial flights in and out of Russia resume operation.
“We are currently surveying the locations and visa status of those Filipinos who want to be repatriated, and hopefully we will have a clearer picture,” he said.
The envoy admitted that many Filipinos in Russia have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them are employed as nannies or household help and part-timers.
As of April 17, 2020, Soreta said no Filipinos have been reported as having tested positive for COVID-19 in Russia, Belarus and Armenia, areas that fall under the jurisdiction of the Philippine embassy in Moscow.
He advised Filipinos who may encounter any symptoms of the virus to follow the existing protocol in Russia by calling English-speaking emergency hotline 103 for immediate medical attention.
Since the outbreak, Soreta said they have been receiving requests for help and repatriation, prompting them to transform a portion of the embassy into quarters to accommodate distressed Filipinos.
The embassy also prepared immediate assistance in the form of food packs for distribution to Filipinos who were displaced by the pandemic.