Baldoz urges OFWs in West Africa to be careful against Ebola virus “Prevent and avoid handshakes; do not eat, or stop eating, bush meat; avoid traveling to areas where there is a reported outbreak; and do not get close to any person suspected of having the Ebola virus.” These were some of the stringent measures Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said overseas Filipino workers in West Africa should take, particularly those in Guinea, where there is a breakout of the Ebola virus. Data of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that Guinea, as of 2012, hosts 358 OFWs, 323 of them rehires, and 35 new hires. A total of 4,620 OFWs, including those in Guinea, have been deployed to 14 Western African countries as of 2012, listed as follows: Benin (14 OFWs); Burkina Faso (43); Cape Verde (2); Gambia (9); Ghana (657); Guinea-Bissau (3); Liberia (232); Mali (82); Mauritania (155); Niger (62); Nigeria (1,997); Senegal (78); Sierra Leone (919); and Togo (9). “We strongly advise these precautionary and safety measures in the wake of international media reports that the government of Guinea in Western Africa has urged people to remain calm following the outbreak of Ebola which had killed 70 people in that country since February 9,” said Baldoz. She further cited a media report that “more than 125 people across three countries in the area are now believed to have been affected by the Ebola virus.” Baldoz, who is in Geneva heading a Philippine delegation to the UN Committee tasked to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families, said there is no reported case/s of any Filipino affected by the Ebola outbreak in western Africa, citing an update report of the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria sent to the DOLE by the Department of Foreign Affairs. “But this doesn’t mean there is not a need for proper medically-prescribed precautionary and safety measures to prevent being infected by Ebola considering that there is no vaccine yet against the virus. The Ebola virus, according to medical authorities, is spread through close contact with bodily fluids, such as the sweat, blood, and saliva of an infected person or animal. Doctors say the only way to contain the outbreak is to stop further infections. Health and social ministries of countries with cases of persons affected by the Ebola virus prescribe such measures as preventing handshakes, refraining from eating bush meat, and avoiding travel to areas where is a reported outbreak. They also advice against getting close to a person suspected of having the virus until getting medical advice. Baldoz said the DOLE will closely coordinate with the DFA in monitoring the situation in West Africa constantly to ensure the protection and welfare of OFWs against the health threat. She hailed the Filipino United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers based in Monrovia, Liberia for their initiative to assist the DOLE and the DFA by keeping a close tab on developments pertaining to the viral threat. “I therefore urge our OFWs to remain calm while pursuing efforts to protect themselves against the threat”, said Baldoz. She urged OFWs in West Africa address their concerns to Philippine Missions in that region as follows: • Philippine Embassy, No. 2 Kainji St. corner Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama District, FCT Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Hotline (+234) 8051752187; Public Information Hotline (+234) 8102541246; Email [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; and • Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Libya, Philippine Embassy, Gargaresh Road, Km. 7, Hay Andalous, Tripoli, Libya; Hotline (21821) 483-7059 (FWRC/OWWA); Fax: (21821) 483-2544. In the Philippines, OFWs and their families may call the Philippine Overseas Employment Hotlines 722-11-44 or 722-11-55; the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration at tel. nos. 891-76-01 to 24 local 5401; or DOLE Hotline 527-8000. END mjlc

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