(UPDATE) Filipino nurses who went on a holiday in the Philippines in February could not fly back to the Republic of Ireland due to the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.
Fourteen out of the 46 nurses who are due to return to their overseas jobs are stranded in the following areas: Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Lanao del Norte, Masbate, Negros Oriental and North Cotabato.
The 46 stranded healthcare workers are among approximately 6,000 Filipino nurses working in Ireland.
Ranging from work permit holders and naturalized citizens, the nurses are based in the counties of Cork, Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, Roscommon and Waterford.
Golda Stephanie Tilanduca, a nurse at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, has been in Bukidnon since March.
In the meantime, she took the initiative to reach out to the 45 other nurses through a community group in Ireland called Filipino Nurses in Ireland.
Tilanduca is coordinating with the Philippine embassy in London, Philippine Airlines in London, the consulate in Dublin and other relevant offices to find a way to get them back to Ireland.
“Most of us were scheduled to return to Ireland in March or April, but when the Philippine government gave a 72-hour window on March 18 to travel, not everyone can arrange a plane ticket on time, so we got locked in when the quarantine became effective,” Tilanduca said.
The group hopes the 14 nurses from the provinces can book a trip through a sweeper flight bound for Manila.
Tilanduca said there is a program in Ireland that helps to take care of flights and accommodations for medical professionals around the world who wish to return to Ireland.
The Fly the Heroes Home program has apparently booked flights for the Filipino nurses, which is scheduled to leave Manila on May 7.
“Unfortunately, the Philippine government announced the quarantine extension, automatically cancelling our booked domestic flights for Manila from our respective provinces,” Tilanduca said.
“We are trying to organize a sweeper flight before May 7, but they have also very kindly given us an option on May 17, granting that the ECQ will be lifted on May 15.”
The 46 nurses are among hundreds of overseas nurses around the world who have no idea when they will be able to return to work and whose finances are drying up.
The ECQ, which began on March 16, was to end originally mid-April. It was reset to April 30, before it was extended again until May 15, but only in Metro Manila in selected provinces considered high risk for COVID-19.
Domestic and international flights are still prohibited.