The quarantine facilities set up by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to accommodate returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who will undergo the mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine, are now serving over 500 returning OFWs, and are operating at almost full capacity.
Composed of two quarantine ships and a treatment facility at Manila South Harbor, the facilities were set up to serve seafarers and other OFWs who will take their mandatory 14-day quarantine as ordered by the Department of Health, as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This initiative is part of the response efforts by the DOTr, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), in cooperation with the Lopez Group of Companies, 2GO and the Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).
“We have seen the increasing need to serve those affected by this pandemic and we’ve witnessed the demand for the provision of temporary accommodations for them. Gayunpaman, tuluy-tuloy ‘ho ang serbisyo ng inyong Kagawaran para magsilbi sa ating mga bayani. To our returning OFWs, these facilities are meant to assist you, and it is our way of saying that we can get through all this together,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed.
As of yesterday, 29 April 2020, the two quarantine ships docked at Pier 15 are serving a total of 332 OFWs, who show no symptoms of COVID-19. One of the two ships, which can accommodate 283 individuals, is currently accommodating 255 OFWs, while the smaller ship with a capacity of 143, is attending to the needs of 77 OFWs.
Located near the docked quarantine vessels is the Eva Macapagal Terminal, which was converted by the PPA into a coronavirus treatment facility to serve OFWs who manifest mild symptoms. As of yesterday, the quarantine facility, which has a total capacity of 211, is serving 203 patients.
Since the start of its operations on 11 April 2020, a total of 48 individuals have completed their mandatory quarantine period, while 17 OFWs have been allowed to go home, through the help of the MARINA, OFWs’ licensed manning agencies (LMAs), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), PCG, PPA, and the DOTr, who will arrange for their transport back to their respective residences.
“During their quarantine period, PCG’s medical personnel regularly monitor the health condition of our OFWs. PCG is also hands on in receiving any concern of our kababayans. They are always making sure that essential goods are distributed so that necessary items will be readily available for them at all times during their isolation,” PCG Commandant Admiral Joel Garcia pointed out.
Meanwhile, the treatment facility also continues to receive OFWs who are in need of treatment for mild symptoms. On Tuesday, 28 April 2020, 73 individuals, all land-based overseas workers, started their isolation at the terminal-turned quarantine facility. Yesterday, 130 OFWs commenced their mandatory quarantine.
“We are implementing strict precautionary measures in this complex where we house our quarantine vessels and treatment facility. What we aim is to maintain strict enforcement of health protocols so that none of our OFWs will be infected by COVID-19. So far, we are doing well with that,” PPA General Manager Jay Santiago expressed.
On the completion of the mandatory 14-day quarantine, DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Affairs Artemio Tuazon said a rapid anti-body testing will be conducted by PCG medical personnel.
Additionally, with the increasing capacity for real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, a procedure for detecting viral infections, swabbing for OFWs will also be done by PCG medical personnel. Once cleared, the OFWs will be released and will be allowed to go home.
“Our overseas workers with private vehicles or ‘yung tinatawag nating may magsusundo, they will be allowed to leave the quarantine facility. For those persons without private vehicles, we are offering free transportation service. So, we encourage our OFWs not to hesitate raising their concerns with us. We are more than willing to help,” Usec. Tuazon said.
Stay updated with news and information from the Department of Transportation by visiting their website at http://www.dotr.gov.ph.