Returning OFWs welcomed in Northern Mindanao amid renewed rise in COVID-19 cases
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– Despite the rise in the number of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country, there’s no let-up in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Northern and other parts of Mindanao, according to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration officials in Region 10 (OWWA-10).
Petrona Bergado, OWWA-10 director, said 6,210 OFWs had returned to Northern Mindanao from Jan. 1 to March 15 this year.
She added that OWWA would continue to facilitate the arrival of thousands more until they are ordered to do otherwise.
“There is no advice to stop, so we will keep on facilitating their return,” Bergado said.
She said her office helped 26,825 OFWs return to their respective hometowns last year. The mass repatriation came weeks after President Duterte declared the country under a national public health emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the total number, 753 arrived by boat. The rest came on air.
Bergado said the agency also facilitated the repatriation of the remains of 30 OFWs, who died overseas, within the period. Ten of them died from COVID-19, Bergado said.
This developed as the first cases of COVID-19 UK variant were confirmed to have entered Zamboanga del Sur and Lanao del Norte towns early last week.
Dr. Anatalio Cagampang Jr., Zamboanga del Sur provincial health officer, said a 38-year old Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Kuwait arrived in Labangan town in the second week of February, but it was only on March 15, when results of the genome sequencing confirmed him to have contracted the B.1.1.7 UK variant of the coronavirus.
The woman had recovered from her symptoms, but the local government tried to trace all people she had come in contact with.
In Lanao del Norte, an OFW returning to Lala town after his work in Dubai was found positive for COVID-19 during his quarantine in Cebu City, according to Dr. David Mendoza of the Department of Health’s Northern Mindanao office.
But 10 days later, he was cleared of the infection, and on March 2, was allowed to go home by boat to Ozamiz City. Four days later, he received the result of the genome sequence which confirmed him to be positive for the UK variant.
He was sent to an isolation facility in Kolambugan town.
With reports from Leah Agonoy and Richel Umel
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