By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) escalates worldwide, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) warned Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs) against failing to report cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) infected with the virus.
POEA, in its Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 4-2020, said PRAs are given three days to report to concerned government posts abroad upon getting the information on possible cases of symptomatic or infected OFWs, particularly those in Macau and Hong Kong.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, in the circular warned that “PRAs in violation of this Memorandum shall be held liable for violation or reportorial requirements under the POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Landbased Overseas Filipino Workers of 2016 as well as appropriate corresponding disciplinary action.”
Reported cases of persons with COVID-19 in Macau and Hong Kong prompted POEA to require PRAs to “strictly monitor the health conditions of their deployed OFWs.” In particular, POEA directed PRAs to ensure that health protocols and on-site precautionary measures for OFWs and monitoring of deployed OFWs are in strictly observed.
POEA reminded the PRAs that prior to deployment, PRAs “shall provide advice” to OFWs bound for the job sites to “strictly follow the health protocols and precautionary health measures.”
Likewise, PRAs “should strictly monitor the condition/s of their deployed OFWs and should establish accessible lines of communication for reports on emergency cases.”
“As such, monitoring system should be generated by each deploying PRA to take into consideration the seriousness of the disease and the OFW’s immediate need for medical assistance,” Olalia said in the circular.
Olalia said “cases of asymptomatic or infected OFWs should be reported by the PRA within three days” to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Philippine Embassy, or Consular Office of the jurisdiction for “prompt medical attention” and furnish a copy of the report to the POEA.
As of March 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are 745 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong and 66 in Macau.