Peacekeepers end 21-day quarantine
MANILA, Philippines—Filipino peacekeepers quarantined on Caballo Island after they arrived from Ebola-hit Liberia have sailed to Manila as their prescribed 21-day isolation ended Tuesday.
“Yung ating peacekeepers na nag-undergo ng quarantine kaninang 12 noon ay nag-board ng ship to Sangley Point [Cavite] at kukunin sila ng bus. Officially sa araw na ito natapos ang quarantine. Hihintayin sila ng senior officers ng Task Group Liberia para dalhin sa Maynila at ihanda na sa hero’s welcome sa December 4,” said Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, chief Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office on Tuesday.
There are 133 peacekeepers (108 from AFP; 24 from Philippine National Police; 1 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) who arrived in the country last Nov. 12 after almost a year of stay in Liberia. They were quarantined on Caballo Island as a precaution despite passing the Ebola screening conducted by the United Nations before their repatriation.
“More than 21 days na sila naka-isolate so Ebola-free na ang ating mga peacekeepers,” Cabunoc said.
In Manila, the 132 peacekeepers will undergo a medical screening at AFP Medical Center (V. Luna) in Quezon City either on Tuesday night or Wednesday, according to Cabunoc.
He did not disclose where the peacekeepers would stay until the welcoming rites at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday.
Last week, one peacekeeper suffered from hypertension after playing basketball. He was brought to AFPMC for check-up.
He remained confined in the hospital for medical observation but Cabunoc said he was likely to join the Thursday event.
Nine peacekeepers (four from AFP and nine from PNP) who arrived behind the 133 peacekeepers are also quarantined at the Infectious Ward of AFPMC.
“Kung ihalo sila sa Caballo ibig sabihin ma-extend yung quarantine ng iba,” Cabunoc said, adding that V. Luna’s facilities are enough for the peacekeepers who recently arrived.
The peacekeepers will be awarded the UN Service Medal on Thursday for their participation in Liberia. An awards ceremony for the sportsfest held on Caballo Island during their stay there will also be held.
The hero’s welcome ceremony will be attended by senior defense and military officials, such as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP chief General Gregorio Catapang, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado.
The peacekeepers will also be given a “breakthrough,” a privilege which means they could enjoy both Christmas and New Year’s break.
In the military, the Christmas and New Year’s breaks are usually between December 20 and January 3 and divided into two in order to have enough personnel on duty while the others take their break.
“Yun ay bilang gantimpala sa kanila. Self-sacrifice yung ginawa sa Caballo para manatili [ang bansa] na Ebola-free,” Cabunoc said.
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