4,000 OFWs stranded in Metro Manila after Red Cross limits COVID-19 testing

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Some 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who returned to the Philippines amid the coronavirus pandemic are stranded in Metro Manila after the Philippine Red Cross imposed a limit on COVID-19 testing.

According to Maki Pulido’s Tuesday report on “State of the Nation with Jessica Soho,” it now takes longer for OFWs to get their COVID-19 clearance, which is required before they can go home to their respective provinces.

“We are now faced with another stranding of our OFWs. Right now, we are talking of at least 4,000 plus now stranded in Metro Manila,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The number of OFWs sent home to the provinces each day has dwindled down to around 300 from 3,000 in the past weeks.

Over 100,000 OFWs are still expected to return home within the year.

“You can just imagine how many OFWs are now stranded in all the hotels in Metro Manila. ‘Yun ang problema namin,” Bello said.

“They are staying longer, when before they could stay only as long as three to four days. Now, they’re staying already beyond one week and that’s our problem in terms of expenses and in terms of taking care of our OFWs,” he added.

The Philippine Red Cross earlier said it would stop accepting specimens from returning Filipinos, among others, due to mounting debt that has remained unpaid by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Monday night to pay off the state insurer’s P930-million balance to the humanitarian organization, which conducts 30 percent of all COVID-19 tests performed nationwide. — BAP, GMA News

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