By Genalyn Kabiling
Additional safety measures must be put in place at the local level to make sure residents, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), returning to their home provinces are indeed free from the new coronavirus disease, a Palace official said on Sunday (June 7).
In the wake of reports that some OFWs reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in their home provinces, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque acknowledged that a person may still get infected during travel.
“COVID-19 testing reflects the person’s health status only at the time of testing. Between the time a test is conducted and the time of arrival of an OFW or anyone travelling, the possibility of infection remains,” Roque explained.
Roque asserted that health precautions must still be taken when a person travels from one place to another to avoid infection.
“Having said this, we remind everyone to exercise all the precautions advised by health authorities during travel. Additional safety measures at the provincial or LGU (local government unit) level are likewise necessary to ensure that one is truly healthy and devoid of COVID-19,” he said.
The government recently assisted thousands of Filipino repatriates in their travel back to their hometowns after they reportedly tested negative for the disease. Several OFWs reportedly tested positive when they arrived in their hometowns. Coronavirus cases involving OFWs have been reported in Bacolod City, Ormoc City, Aklan, and Palawan.
The President earlier ordered the unhampered transit of thousands of Filipino repatriates back to their home provinces. He has appealed to local government officials to accept “with open arms” the Filipino repatriates who tested negative in their coronavirus tests, saying denying them entry to their hometowns would be cruel and unlawful.
Duterte has also offered to pay for the hospital expenses of coronavirus-infected Filipinos who are stranded amid the pandemic.