MANILA — The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said on Thursday it was ready to assist OFWs who might get stranded due to Hong Kong's 2-week ban on incoming flights from 8 countries, including the Philippines.
“Binabantayan natin ngayon sa airport iyong mga posibleng maapektuhan kasi noong mga nakaraang karanasan, nakikita na natin na naiistranded sila,” said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
(We are monitoring at the airport those who might be affected because in our past experience, we saw some were stranded.)
Cacdac said recruitment agencies are generally "very cooperative" and have resources to help stranded workers.
However, some workers may be returning to Hong Kong through an independent arrangement with their employers and may no longer have ties with manpower agencies, he said in a televised public briefing.
“Sila iyong malamang na tutulungan natin,” said Cacdac.
(They are the ones who we'll likely help.)
OWWA will provide food, accommodation, and transport assistance to stranded workers, he said.
“Nakahanda tayo ngayon na tulungan iyong mga posibleng ma-stranded nitong restrictions,” added the official.
(We are ready to help those who might be stranded by these restrictions.)
Video courtesy of PTV
Hong Kong banned incoming flights, including interchanges, from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain, and the United States from Jan. 8 to Jan 21.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced the restriction as health authorities scoured the city for the contacts of a COVID-19 patient, some of whom had been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship that was ordered to cut short its "cruise to nowhere" and return to port.
Lam said the government would ban indoor dining after 6:00 p.m. from Friday, and close swimming pools, sports centers, bars and clubs, museums, and other venues for at least two weeks. Future cruise journeys will be cancelled.
"We're yet to see a fifth wave yet, but we're on the verge," Lam said.
Hong Kong recorded 38 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, but only one was a local community transmission, while the rest were people who had returned to the city and tested positive during quarantine.
The global finance hub has stuck to a zero-tolerance strategy by largely isolating itself from the world and enforcing a draconian and costly quarantine regime.
On Dec. 31, a streak of three months without community cases ended with the first local transmission of the omicron variant.
Since then, authorities have scrambled to track down and test hundreds of people who had been in contact with a handful of omicron patients. One patient, however, had no known links, raising fears of a large outbreak.
"We are worried there may be silent transmission chains in the community," Lam said.
— With a report from Reuters