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WHO allows repatriation of remains of OFWs who died of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia

 

By Jeffrey Damicog

The World Health Organization (WHO) has given the green light to the Philippines to bring back home the remains of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died in Saudi Arabia of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Friday.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III speaks during the ASEAN Labor Ministers' Retreat in Davao City. (Keith Bacongco)

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III speaks during the ASEAN Labor Ministers’ Retreat in Davao City. (Keith Bacongco)

Bello, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said this is one of the reasons why the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases decided to allow the return of the remains of the OFWs who died of COVID-19.

“After we were assured about the safety of their coming in, the IATF decided to reconsider its earlier position to bring home only those who died of natural causes,” Bello said.

After the Philippine government learned that repatriation has been sought for the remains of 353 OFWs in Saudi Arabia, including 107 persons who died of COVID-19, Bello said he consulted with the Department of Health (DOH), which in turn, asked for advice from the WHO about this.

“They (DOH) found out it is safe to bring home even those OFWs who died of COVID-19,” the secretary said.

Bello said plans are being arranged for the return of the remains of the OFWs including the implementation of health protocols.

He said the remains of those who died of COVID-19 will have to be sealed under multiple containments and immediately cremated upon arrival.

Bello added that only a few individuals will be allowed during the funeral of each of the dead OFW who died from COVID-19.

He said OFWs are considered the country’s modern day heroes. “They have to be treated as bayani (heroes).”

“The best that we could do for them is to give them the right to be buried in their homeland,” he said.

Bello assured the families of the OFWs that they will receive the benefits that are due to them.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://news.mb.com.ph/2020/06/26/who-allows-repatriation-of-remains-of-ofws-who-died-of-covid-19-in-saudi-arabia/)

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