MANILA— The Philippine foreign affairs department said Saturday nearly a hundred Filipinos are stranded in Europe and Africa after 14 countries in these regions were placed on Manila's red list amid the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said at a public briefing at least 50 Filipinos are stranded in Europe, where seven countries are under the Red List until December 15. These are Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.
In Africa, at least 49 Filipinos are stranded. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique were earlier placed on the Red List after the Omicron variant was first reported in the region.
Passengers who come from or have been to countries under Manila's red list within the last 14 days are not allowed to enter the Philippines.
According to Arriola, the government is organizing repatriation flights in Europe, set for December 10 and 13. But it is having a harder time doing so in South Africa because most transit countries do not want to accept flights from there. Omicron was first detected in South Africa.
"Ang kailangan po namin talaga at the moment, nakikiusap po kami, makipag-ugnayan po tayo sa ating mga embahada so that we can help you," she said.
(What we really need at the moment is for Filipinos to coordinate with our embassies so we can help you.)
Arriola said stranded overseas Filipinos with repatriation concerns may visit the DFA's official OFW Help Facebook Page.