The Middle east-based overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) rights group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) today said amidst the spread of MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory syndrome) a brand of the deadly corona virus spreading in the Middle East, old and sick OFWs including children of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia are more susceptible to MERS-CoV.
Yesterday, Saudi’s Ministry of Health confirmed that there were 20 people have already been afflicted by MERS-CoV following report on the death of 2 persons in Jeddah, western city of Saudi Arabia,
Weeks ago, 4 persons were reportedly afflicted by MERS-CoV in the United Arab Emirates. Two of them were OFWs, both works as medical staff in UAE hospitals.
Scores of MERS-CoV cases were also reported in Doha, Qatar weeks ago.
“This situation requires an immediate action by the Philippine government through its diplomatic posts not only in Saudi Arabia but in other mid-east countries where there are MERS-CoV spread and huge OFWs concentration,” said John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator.
Monterona cited that in UAE for instance, the host government already raised ‘Orange’ alarm which means its citizen and expatriates were advised to wear mask especially going to public places.
Also the confirmation by the Saudi govt. that there were 20 persons monitored to have been afflicted by MERS-CoV and the sacking of its Health Minister convey an indication that MERS-CoV is spreading fast.
To contain the spread of MERS-CoV, the Saudi govt. reportedly instructed the Ministry of Health to distribute vaccines.
On April 16, 2014, Saudi’s MOH sent text blast to caution its citizens and the millions of expatriates. Monterona confirmed he too received the MOH text blast warning on MERS-CoV.
Monterona said the PH consulate in Jeddah should conduct not only information dissemination and education campaign on how to avoid MERS-CoV but as well as conduct medical missions to look and monitor the health condition of an estimated 200 stranded OFWs, some with children, who have been staying since October of last year inside the deportation facility in Jeddah.
“We likewise call on PH embassy officials in Riyadh to do the same,” Monterona adding that there are around 100 stranded OFWs temporarily staying at embassy-rented accommodation, while there are 40 women and children at the Bahay Kalinga, also in Riyadh.
“We are urging Pres. Aquino to issue a clear marching order to the DFA and DoH to urgently attend on the medical needs of the distressed and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other mid-east countries, form a medical team and deploy them in MERS-hit countries where there are large concentration of OFWs, distressed and stranded,” the Riyadh-based OFW leader suggested.
Monterona reiterates to the PNoy administration to seriously attend on the repatriation of the distressed and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
“We need action from his administration not just mere words of praises to OFWs whom the government hails as ‘Modern Heroes’ due to its economic contribution through their billion dollars remittances,” Monterona concluded.