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Hong Kong bans travel from Philippines

Some 1,300 overseas Filipino workers will be affected by Hong Kong’s two-week ban on flights from the Philippines that takes effect today, the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration said.

“Since there will be a two-week temporary suspension on the deployment, their border will be closed due to the pandemic. So half of 2,600, more or less 1,300 workers to be affected,” POEA chief Bernard Olalia said in a virtual forum.

He added that most of the affected workers are household service workers.

He, however, assured that the temporary travel ban imposed by the Chinese semi-autonomous region will not stop them from continuously processing the documents of applicants.

“Even if there is temporary closure or temporary suspension of flights to destination countries, our Philippine Overseas Labor Office, our POEA will continue to process deployment documents. It means that the verification being done by POLO will continue. The accreditation of POEA will also continue,” he said.

Olalia reported that prior to the pandemic, the country was sending 13,000 OFWs to Hong Kong every month and more or less 168,000 annually.

“On the average, we can say some 13,000 OFWs are being deployed every month. This is before the pandemic, in 2019 and prior years. But last year, the deployment dropped by almost 80 percent, only 32,000 deployments, and only 2,600 plus monthly,” he added.

Olalia said Hong Kong is the fourth top destination for OFWs, next to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.

Reports said Hong Kong will ban flights from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan for 14 days starting April 20. These countries were classified as “extremely high risk” due to multiple imported cases, including the highly transmissible “N501Y” coronavirus variant.*PNA

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