COVID-infected Pinoys in India hit 73
There are 73 Filipinos in India who have been infected with the coronavirus and they are receiving assistance from the Filipino community in the area and from the Philippine Embassy, Ambassador Ramon Bagatsing Jr. said.
Bagatsing said the embassy and the Filipino communities, with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs, organized a COVID support group to address the need for medicines, supplies and food.
This is because India is a big country and air travel from one region to another could take hours, he said.
“So we have satellite groups of Filipino communities, and we text and chat and provide updates on the situation of a Filipino. So the Filipinos in that area help each other and the embassy provides as much support as we can on our own,” he said.
As for the repatriation of Filipinos from India, Bagatsing said the Philippines would have to wait for clearances and the lifting of travel bans before this could be done.
The logistics for the repatriation would be difficult to address now due to the travel ban on arrivals from India not just in the Philippines, but in other countries as well, he said.
“So even without us issuing a travel ban, there is a de facto travel ban,” Bagatsing said.
The countries where a commercial flight to the Philippines would transit would not allow passengers from India to land, he said.
“De facto, we cannot send them home. So we will wait for clearances and hopefully once these clearances are secured and the ban is lifted in these countries and in our country, we can send [home] some of our countrymen here,” he said.
About 50 Filipinos have signified their intention to go home, he said. There are some 1,300 Filipinos in India.
The government is studying the possibility of expanding the travel ban to cover countries that receive a lot of traffic from India in order to protect the Philippines from getting more COVID-19 infections, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
The Philippines earlier imposed a travel ban on India after the South Asian country experienced a surge in cases. INQ
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