A second wave of novel coronavirus infections could come from overseas Filipino workers arriving from affected areas of the world, the chief implementer of the national policy against COVID-19 said Friday as Malacañang raised the possibility of a nationwide general community quarantine by August.
At a press briefing, Carlito Galvez Jr. said a new upsurge in COVID-19 cases might be seen as Filipino workers return from countries such as the United States, Italy, Spain and parts of the Middle East.
“What we are seeing now is that we are getting more than 30,000 OFWs and they come from affected areas,” Galvez said in a mix of Filipino and English.
“That’s what we’re looking at, and that’s where a possible second wave might come from,” he added.
READ: Palace disowns ‘2nd wave’
So far, he said, about 600 of the 30,000 returning workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Galvez said the government only allows inbound flights for OFWs, seafarers, and returning Filipinos in the country and still limits the number of domestic flights.
All returning Filipinos from abroad, he said, are immediately being swabbed upon entry and isolated for a 14-day quarantine period.
“We can only allow travel if these stringent protocols are in place,” he said.
READ: PH may swing to ’third wave’
“We will gradually lift our entry quota of at least 1,000 returning Filipinos a day if we were able to de-clog these quarantine facilities. We will do our best to hasten the process,” he added.
Galvez earlier said the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), were instructed to release OFWs who have already tested negative for COVID-19.
“Our goal is to decongest our quarantine facilities and prevent them from being overwhelmed by the huge number of returning OFWs,” he said.
Malacañang, for its part, floated the possibility that the entire country might be placed under GCQ by August.
READ: Quarantine for arriving 42k OFWs worries government
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said it is likely possible to impose GCQ nationwide by August, so long as all Filipinos heed quarantine protocols that have been enforced to arrest the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re hoping that by Aug. 24, which is the mandated day for public schools to resume classes, the entire Philippines would already be under GCQ,” Roque said in a mix of Filipino and English.
In a press statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Philippines said there has been apprehension among parents, teachers, and learners due to the threat of acquiring or passing on the virus.
But Roque said the government would never jeopardize the lives of students.
READ: DOH needs P67.6 billion more to fight pandemic as cases near 13,000
“We will never put our youth at risk. If it is necessary to suspend school opening due to high cases or a possible second wave, we will do it,” he said.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported 163 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 13,597.
Metro Manila accounted for 91 or 55 percent of the new cases. Region 7 reported 56 new cases.
Eleven new deaths were reported, bringing total fatalities to 857.
The DOH also announced 92 new recoveries, bringing to 3,092 the number of patients who have recovered from the disease.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines (UP) see more than 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila by June 15 if current trends and community quarantine measures continue.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.