2K returning Pinoys test positive

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    MORE than 2,000 returning overseas Filipinos tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) upon their arrival in the country, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

    In a virtual press briefing Thursday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there are now 2,379 repatriated overseas Filipinos found to have contracted the deadly virus after going through swab testing on their arrival.

    Of the total cases, DOH data showed that 1,690 managed to recover while one died as of July 1.

    Since the start of the outbreak, 92,967 Filipinos based overseas have returned home.

    Vergeire said the number of COVID-19 cases among repatriates surged over the last two months.

    “We observed that the number of repatriate cases has significantly increased in May and June, since we only recorded 28 cases from March to April,” said Vergeire.

    Under existing testing protocols, all arriving overseas Filipinos are tested upon their arrival in the country and then placed under quarantine while waiting for test results.

    If they test negative, they are allowed to return to their hometowns.

    Vergeire said those who tested negative are advised to undergo self quarantine on their arrival in their homes.

    “They are advised to go on self quarantine for another 14 days just to be sure,” Vergeire said.

    Meanwhile, 395 Filipinos returning from Sabah, Malaysia are set to arrive on Saturday in Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City, according to Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista.

    Bautista said the 395 are part of the 3,500 Filipinos that would be sent back from Sabah to the country in batches through Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City. The next batch of returnees will arrive after 15 days.

    He said the returnees would be provided food packs, hygiene kits and sleeping kits sourced from the P39 million budget allocated for the program.

    He added a psychosocial intervention program would also be provided to the returnees who would be profiled by the DSWD to determine what other assistance could be extended to them.

    The government plans to provide livelihood and training programs to the returnees to enable their reintegration into the country. – With Jocelyn Montemayor