MANILA—Filipinos in Myanmar have been urged to fly home following the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, a member of the community said Wednesday.
The Philippine Embassy in Yangon will mount a repatriation flight on August 3 and Filipinos have until Sunday to decide whether to join, said lawyer Jobert Pahilga, a land adviser there.
"Sinasabi ng embassy na delikado na ang sitwasyon dito, dahil marami na ang Pilipino na . . . May namatay na 1 o 2 na ata. Walang ospital, walang oxygen. Ang embassy mismo naghahanap ng ospital. Wala silang makuha. Kahit ambulansiya pahirapan," Pahilga told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(The embassy said the situation is dangerous here, because a Filipino or two have died. There are no available hospitals, even oxygen. The embassy itself has been looking for hospitals, and they can't find any. Even ambulances are scarce.)
"Medyo mahirap, although may communications naman kami ng Filipinos dito dahil meron kaming group chat."
(It's difficult, but Filipinos have been communicating in group chats.)
The embassy also urged Filipinos to return to Manila to get vaccinated as it was not easy to be immunized in Myanmar, Pahilga added.
"Ang vice consul sinasabi sa amin na kahit gustuhin man magkaroon ng vaccine, nag-order sila, di rin makakarating agad-agad ang supply kaya. Ang advise ay dapat umuwi muna," he said.
(The vice consul told us that, even if they ordered vaccines, it won't arrive in Myanmar on time. So the advise is to go home.)
A vaccination program was launched in December but it has yet to resume since following the February military coup that removed Aung Saan Suu Kyi from her post, according to Pahilga.
Most of the Filipinos want to return to the Philippines on the next flight after August 3 but the embassy said it would be difficult to launch another repatriation flight, Pahilga said.
"Ang karamihan sabi nila aantayin muna ang next flight after August 3, kasi may contracts pa kami na dapat tapusin at ang iba pag-uwi sa Pilipinas ay walang trabaho," he said.
(Many said they would wait for the next flight after August 3, because we still have contracts to finish and some will be without work when they return to the Philippines.)
"Ang sabi sa amin ng embassy baka mahirapan magkaroon ng next flight dahil Delta variant ang nandito sa Myanmar."
(The embassy said it might be difficult to mount another flight due to the Delta variant.)
The Philippines has restricted entry to travelers from India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
Myanmar has limited the movement of people by allowing them to go outside their homes between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to Pahilga.