Baldoz reinstates DOLE convergent actions on MERS-CoV; directs POLOs to re-establish monitoring systems

In view of a recent report that some Filipino nurses in Saudi Arabia have been exposed to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday issued a memorandum directing all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) to re-establish their respective daily monitoring systems on MERS-CoV and to undertake measures to ensure the protection of OFWs against the deadly virus.

In her memorandum, the labor and employment chief also directed all POLOs to make representation with health authorities in their posts to strengthen infection control protocols for Filipino healthcare workers, as well as with labor and health authorities for Filipino agricultural workers whose jobs make them in contact with animals.

“We have established the Daily Monitoring System on MERS-CoV last April, whereby our POLOs were required to submit the complete names, addresses in the Philippines, and contact details of vacationing OFWs. We have to re-establish this system,” said Baldoz.

The DOLE has 36 POLOs, 15 of which are located in the Middle East; 11 in Asia; and 10 in Europe and the Americas.

Also part of the fresh instruction of Secretary Baldoz is for the POLOs to strongly encourage Filipinos to undergo MERS-CoV testing, particularly those who are about to go on vacation in the Philippines, at least two weeks before they travel.
Last April, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, upon Baldoz’s instructed, had included in the subjects of the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) information on the MERS-CoV.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, another attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, had also issued an advisory to all Philippine Recruitment Agencies (PRAs) and Philippine Manning Agencies (PMAs), as well as accredited PDOS providers to include the subject on MERS-CoV in the health and safety modules of their seminars.

The POEA said at least 3,000 ready-to-leave OFWs attend the daily PDOs.

Also yesterday, Baldoz instructed the POEA to reiterate its advice to overseas Filipino workers to take preventive measures against the virus.

“While there is no travel restriction, or deployment ban, to Middle East countries relative to the MERS-CoV, newly-hired or returning overseas Filipino workers and OFWs on-site should take preventive measures against it,” she said.

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