Despite the enhanced community quarantine currently placed over Luzon, a Palace official has announced that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), balikbayans, and foreigners are allowed to leave the Philippines anytime.
Late evening on Tuesday, 17th March 2020, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles stated that these groups of people can leave the country, as long as they are able to show proof of international travel.
These Groups of People Can Leave for Abroad – Nograles
“OFWs, balikbayans, and foreign nationals leaving for abroad through any of the ports in Luzon shall be allowed to leave the Philippines at any time for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine, provided that proof of international travel itinerary scheduled within 24 hours must be presented,” Nograles explained, as cited by the Philippine News Agency.
The Secretary clarified, however, that departing Filipinos will have to observe the travel restrictions placed in their country of destination. He also mentioned that “non-essential travel” by Filipinos from any point of Luzon shall be suspended.
Nonetheless, Nograles assured that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) shall provide transport services for OFWs leaving for abroad. However, they can be accompanied by one person only.
Previously, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had announced that travelers of all nationalities would only be given 72 hours to leave the Philippines.
Enhanced Community Quarantine
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared an enhanced community quarantine over Luzon until 12th April 2020, as part of drastic measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
This latest move involves the following measures:
- Strict home quarantine in all households;
- Suspension of mass public transportation;
- Regulation of food and essential health services; and
- Heightened presence of uniformed personnel.
Meanwhile, health workers, authorized government officials, authorized media personnel, essential skeletal workforce, persons providing basic services, and people traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons are exempted from the quarantine.
COVID-19 Cases in the Philippines
As of Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that there is a total of 187 confirmed cases and 14 deaths due to COVID-19 in the country, the Philippine News Agency reported. The Department also said that so far, four patients have recovered.
According to its 8:30 pm medical bulletin, the DOH reported that the latest two mortalities were Patients 126 and 129.
Patient 126 was a 76-year-old Filipino male admitted at the Adventist Medical Centre in Manila on 9th March, and was confirmed COVID-19 positive on 15th March. He had type 2 diabetes and hypertensive cardiovascular disease as underlying conditions. On 17th March in the afternoon, he died due to acute respiratory disease syndrome (ARDS) and severe pneumonia secondary to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Patient 129 was a 67-year-old Filipino male admitted at the Lung Centre of the Philippines and confirmed COVID-19 positive on 15th March. He was known to be hypertensive, and died from ARDS and community acquired pneumonia secondary to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated from Wuhan China, and has spread to more than 150 countries around the world. It has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
As the entire island of Luzon — along with many other places around the world — goes under quarantine and other strict measures, let us strive to keep calm and follow official instructions from government authorities. In the meantime, here are some myths and facts about the novel coronavirus that you should know about.