By Roy Mabasa
Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hjayceelyn Quintana on Wednesday confirmed that 17 Filipinos died in Dubai and four others in Abu Dhabi due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.
Quintana said the number was based on the notifications of death they have so far received from the UAE government.
As of May 6, 2020, there are 15,192 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UAE, 3,153 have recovered, and 146 succumbed to the disease.
On the general situation in the UAE, Quintana said the host government is slowly easing restrictions as 30 percent of the country’s workforce is now allowed to return to work while the remaining 70 percent is still under the “work from home” scheme.
The Philippine diplomat advised the members of the Filipino community not to be too complacent and to continue observing COVID-19 protocols.
UAE is home to nearly 700,000 Filipinos, the second largest destination of OFWs in the Middle East, next only to Saudi Arabia.
Quintana also thanked the UAE government for looking after the welfare of the OFWs during the pandemic, and for donating seven metric tons of medical supplies such as face shields, masks, personal protective equipment, and many others for the use of at least 7,000 frontliners in the Philippines.
“UAE is known to be a model in providing humanitarian assistance. The Philippines is just one of the 32 countries that received humanitarian assistance from the UAE because they believe that COVID-19 is a global pandemic that needs a global response,” the envoy said during the regular Laging Handa briefing of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).
Quintana also assured that the Embassy is ready to resume the repatriation of displaced Filipinos in UAE as soon as the National Task Force on COVID-19 orders the resumption of inbound commercial flights to the Philippines.