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Less OFWs leaving for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau – DOLE

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By Leslie Ann Aquino

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has observed a decrease in the number of overseas Filipino workers leaving for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan after the lifting of the travel ban.

Women wearing protective face masks chat on a bridge in Hong Kong on February 9, 2020, as a preventative measure after a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.(Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Women wearing protective face masks chat on a bridge in Hong Kong on February 9, 2020, as a preventative measure after a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.(Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

He said some of the OFWs are probably taking their time to leave amid the coronavirus disease (COVID 19).

“There are those who are already supposed to leave but haven’t yet,” Bello said on Monday.

“Their tickets are still there. They are ready to go and they are taking their time waiting for further development,” he added.

“Maybe because they still have money, they are waiting, observing,” said Bello.

He said some employers in Hong Kong also gave their workers extended leave.

“Their employers understand the situation,” Bello said.

The labor department earlier directed OWWA to provide P10,000 cash assistance, accommodation, and transportation to OFWs who were stranded due to the travel ban in China, Hongkong, Macau, and Taiwan.

The travel ban was imposed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The government already lifted the travel ban for new hires and returning workers to Hong Kong and Macau.

It also lifted the travel ban to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Bello said they are not recommending a travel ban to South Korea amid the spread of COVID-19 there.

“If we will be asked, we will not recommend a travel ban to South Korea,” he said.

Bello added: The labor office there is also not recommending a travel ban.

“There remains one unverified case of a Filipino (infected) in Korea and the cases are just contained in one area,” he said.

Bello said the decision to impose a ban is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

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