OFWs coronavirus
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said in a Monday, February 3, memorandum that it would provide Php10,000 to each OFW supposed to travel back to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, but was instead stranded in Manila airports after the announcement of a travel ban to and from the said areas affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV outbreak. Image Credit: Courtesy: Jire Carreon/Rappler

Manila: The Philippines says it will provide assistance to migrant workers affected by the government restriction on travel to China due to the coronavirus.

Acting Labour Secretary Renato Ebarle said that he has ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide P10,000 (Dh722) cash each to overseas Filipino workers who would be affected by the temporary travel ban.

Last Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte indefinitely prohibited Filipinos from travelling to China, Hong Kong and Macau.

WLD 200204 MANILA CORONAVIRUS-1580835942006
A security officer checks the temperature of tenants of an office building in Manila on February 3, 2020. The Philippines on February 2 reported the first death from the new coronavirus outside mainland China, as China said February 3 it urgently needed medical equipment and surgical masks as the death toll jumped above 360, making it more deadly than the SARS crisis nearly two decades ago. / AFP / Ted ALJIBE Image Credit: AFP

Exempted from the ban are Filipinos returning to their jobs in that country and permanent visa holders.

However, these were allowed entry on condition that they would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine. Likewise, non-Filipinos from the three areas are in the meantime barred from visiting the Philippines.

The restrictions were part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection which had been sweeping China’s Hubei province as well as other areas.

Hundreds stranded

According to reports, the travel restrictions imposed by Manila had affected hundreds of Filipinos working in Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese mainland.

The affected travellers had been stranded at the airports in Manila since Sunday.

To ease the difficulties of the affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) the OWWA will provide accommodation and transportation to each stranded OFW aside from the P10,000 assistance.

Ebarle said the move will help ease the burden on the OFWs who had been expecting that they would be leaving the country to work in jobs in China and its special administrative regions.

Aside from the OFWs, Manila’s precautionary measure against the entry of the virus had also left at least 300 Chinese nationals stranded in the Philippines.

While the Philippines has so far have no reports of local transmission, at least 80 people are being monitored for possible nCoV infection.

Included in the number are eight people who have had close contact with first fatality, a 43-year-old Chinese tourist from Wuhan.