Nearly 10,000 overseas Filipinos have been stricken with COVID-19, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola told a House panel Monday.
Arriola, in a virtual hearing by the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (OWA), bared that 9,984 overseas Filipinos have been afflicted with COVID as of Aug. 23, 2020.
The figure is four times the number of infections that she reported during an OWA hearing last May 22.
Out of the 9,984 cases, 3,298 are still active, while 5,953 have been deemed recovered. There have been 733 deaths from COVID-19 among Filipinos abroad.
Arriola in her presentation said the region with the most confirmed cases of COVID as well as deaths is the Middle East and Africa, which has been clumped together in one group by the DFA. There are 6,927 cases and 452 deaths so far from the region.
“Most deaths are from Saudi Arabia, 279, and 106 from UAE (United Arab Emirates),” Arriola told the House panel chaired by TUCP party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza.
“We could attribute it to the fact that their health systems are overwhelmed, that’s why we can see a lot of deaths (in that region),” she said.
Meanwhile, the DFA has moved to address overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) concerns in the United Kingdom (UK), particularly among nurses, Arriola said.
“In the UK many of our OFWs are nurses and they’ve been experiencing similar problems…lack of PPEs (personal protective equipment). Filipinos, being very docile and submissive, they’re always placed in the frontline and they don’t say no because they’re afraid to lose their jobs,” she noted.
“That’s why a lot of our frontliners are at risk in the UK but we’re already making representations to alleviate their plight,” she assured congressmen.
Arriola said that as of Aug. 23, the DFA has facilitated the repatriation of 146,360 Filipinos from 80 countries and 135 cruise ships. Some 50,887 overseas Filipinos were repatriated in July alone, she said.