A Catholic bishop called on Philippines authorities to look into the quarantine procedures for returning overseas workers, saying delays in the release of COVID-19 results has become an “added burden” for them.
“The slow and delayed release of the [COVID-19] test results have become an added burden to our [overseas Filipino workers],” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.
“Their much needed vacation with their family and rest are shortened,” noted the prelate, adding that the delays have given returning workers “much anxiety.”
“It also affects our economy as [the workers’] work temporarily stopped, or they may even lose their jobs,” said Bishop Santos in an interview over Radio Veritas 846.
The government’s Overseas Workers Welfare Administration earlier reported the slow release of COVID-19 tests due to the high number of returning migrant workers undergoing tests.
“I am appealing to those concerned to prioritize our [migrant workers] and for a faster testing and release of results for our returning workers,” said Bishop Santos, adding that it would “also be a great help and huge relief if there are preferred lines or windows for our [migrant workers].”
Meanwhile, the prelate appealed “for the patience and continued cooperation” of returning workers, saying that “patience, perseverance and collaboration” are “known qualities” of Filipinos.
“Now, we are translating them not only in foreign lands or in your works but much more at home,” he said.
“We are always praying and offering our Holy Masses especially for our OFWs and seafarers. We are always praying for your safety, strength and sound health,” said the bishop.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health noted an increase in COVID-19 cases in some regions outside of the national capital.
“We are starting to see spikes in neighboring regions and that is what we have observed,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a media briefing.
Independent OCTA Research group earlier said regions outside Metro Manila have recorded 15,445 new COVID-19 cases on January 11, representing 55 percent of new cases in the country.
As of Wednesday, the Philippines has 181,016 active cases of COVID-19, including 28,007 new cases reported on Tuesday, the third-highest since the start of the pandemic.