Gov't may need more funds to house returning OFWs on quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will “most likely” request for an additional budget in June as it expects higher accommodation costs for the mandatory two-week quarantine of returning overseas Filipino workers from jurisdictions with known cases of the new COVID-19 variant, its chief said Saturday.

As a general rule, a person who is allowed to enter the Philippines could be released from a quarantine facility once their swab test yields a negative result. The 14-day quarantine could be completed at home. Returning Filipinos are accommodated for free in government-designated quarantine facilities. The government also shoulders the testing costs of returning OFWs.

However, after recording its first case of the new COVID-19 variant, the Philippines on Friday extended until the end of the month its travel ban on foreign travelers from over 30 jurisdictions and expanded its restriction to include those from Hungary and the United Arab Emirates. As a safety measure, returning Filipinos from countries covered by the travel restriction must complete a two-week quarantine, regardless of COVID-19 test results.

“We are assessing the situation and most likely propose an adjustment or perhaps supplemental funding come midway point meaning June,” OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Weekend.

“Kasi nakikita natin na baka kapusin with this new development na longer stay,” he said.

[Translation: We are seeing that our funds might dry up with this new development that requires Filipinos to stay longer in quarantine facilities.]

The official also asked the local governments not to require the returning Filipinos to go through another round of quarantine once they go back to their home provinces.

“Sana hindi na sila dumaan sa proseso kung saan mapo-prolong pa ang kanilang pag-aantay o pagkakawalay sa kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.

[Translation: I hope the Filipinos would not go through the process [again in their provinces] wherein their waiting time to be with their families would be prolonged.]