DESPITE border closures in some countries due to the potential public health threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will remain uninterrupted for now.
On Monday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said it has yet to receive news of any country which barred the entry of OFWs amid international concerns over the Omicron variant.
“If we have not received any formal communication from the particular destination country to stop the deployment, then that means our deployment should continue,” POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia said in a virtual press briefing.
POEA issued the clarification after several countries like Israel and Japan announced they will ban all foreign visitors from entering their jurisdiction due to Omicron.
As of press time, Olalia said both countries are still allowing the entry of OFWs.
In the case of Israel, he said Filipino caregivers are still expected to be deployed in the coming weeks.
“Our recruitment is still ongoing. Once our caregivers are ready, meaning, complied with protocols such as a negative Covid test and they have all necessary papers, we will deploy them,” Olalia said.
He noted they have already deployed around 600 caregivers to Israel as part of a government-to-government hiring arrangement with POEA.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Omicron, first detected in South Africa, as a variant of concern since it is more infectious compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants, due to its numerous mutations.
Health experts also warned that the Omicron variant may be resistant to existing Covid-19 vaccines.
Cases of Omicron have been reported in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and recently, the United Kingdom (UK).
Currently, the Philippines has no reported case of the Omicron variant.
When asked if POEA will ban the deployment of OFWs to countries with existing cases of Omicron, Olalia said such possibility is unlikely.
“We rarely stop the deployment of OFWs especially if their destination country continues to accept [OFWs] and are able to comply with their protocols,” Olalia said.
“What is important is we make sure the workers we will deploy there will not be infected and their health will be cared for,” he added.