Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), particularly those in the Middle East and Africa to take extreme precaution against the dreaded Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), popularly known as Ebola virus.
Baldos, in a media release said that Ebola, a severe, infectious, often-fatal disease in humans and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) kills in a short time, but it can be prevented, adding that OFWs should take extreme precaution and take an effort to be aware about the disease.
Baldos had already instructed Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Hans Leo J. Cacdac to issue a memorandum circular to licensed recruitment agencies that have deployed workers to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to report regularly to the POEA information relative to the status of their deployed workers in said countries, particularly when workers in the jobsites exhibit symptoms of the virus.
The agencies have been directed to closely monitor the condition of their deployed workers and coordinate with their respective employers on matters affecting the welfare and employment status of the workers, Baldos said.
“The agencies should report at least one week prior to return of a worker from any of these countries,” Baldoz said.
As of July 31, 2014, the number of cases in the four affected West African countries has so far reached 1,323, which includes 729 deaths.
The Department of Health had said the current mortality rate of persons infected with the Ebola virus is about 55 percent. The virus can cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in humans with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent, it said.
The Philippines has many OFWs in the EVD-affected countries. Data from the DFA show that there are about 880 Filipinos living in Guinea, 1,979 in Sierra Leone and 632 in Liberia, including the 148 Filipinos UN Peacekeeping Force. Meanwhile, POEA said that in their records, there are 72 in Guinea, 398 in Sierra Leone and 202 Filipino workers in Liberia.
The Department of Health (DOH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are closely coordinating the repatriation of overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) from the said countries.
To assure OFWs of protection from the Ebola virus and other emerging diseases, President Benigno S. Aquino III had signed on May 26 Executive Order No. 168 creating an inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases (EID) in the country.
The DOH spearheads the task force, along with the Departments of Foreign Affairs; Interior and Local Government; Justice; Tourism; and Transportation and Communications as member-agencies.
“We are still Ebola-free. But we are on our toes. We are closely monitoring all possible ports of entry,” Secretary of Health Enrique Ona said as he assured the public that the government has the capability and the facility to address Ebola.#