Returning OFWs Raise Issues Regarding Conditions of Quarantine Ship

Returning OFWs on quarantine cargo ship brought their experiences on social media to share issues concerning sanitation and (the lack of) health protocols on the makeshift quarantine facility provided by the Philippine government for their 14-day quarantine. 

On April 16 (Thursday), a concerned OFW from Dubai onboard the quarantine ship shared photos and videos of the quarantine facility showing bunker beds cramping the quarters and cockroach-pestered rooms designated for repatriated OFWs.     

Returning OFWs Raise Issues Regarding Conditions of Quarantine Ship
Credits: 2GO Travel/Facebook , DOTr

OFWs on 2Go Cargo Ship Share Quarantine Experiences 

In line with this, the Department of Transport (DOTr) clarified that it is the recruitment agency’s responsibility to manage the accommodation of OFWs in quarantine facilities, as shared in a report by the CNN Philippines.

In a statement, the DOTr said: “If such coordination was made, the OFWs, upon arrival, will board a bus to be escorted by the PCG or the PNP going to their arranged accommodation. If no accommodation was arranged for them before landing, that is the time that they will be brought to Pier 15.

According to repatriates onboard the ship, the quarters were so cramped that it was impossible to observe physical distancing as part of the safety and health protocols set in place to address the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Below are pictures posted by 2GO Travel on their FB Page. These are pictures of the quarantine ship:

However, the DOTr responded to this that the beds in the ships were already built-in and part of its design.

We would like to point out that most of the beds in the said vessel are built-in, fixed type, as part of the original ship design and configuration,” the DOTR pointed out.

The department added, “It should be highlighted that the vessel has a 1,200-passenger capacity, but to ensure the observance of strict protocols on physical distancing, we are only accommodating at most 400 persons.” 

In line with this, the DOTr also pointed out that the room accommodation for the repatriates is free of charge and that the PHP 180 charge for the three meals to be prepared by 2Go is optional.

The DOTR noted that the Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority had been directed to shoulder the food expenses of the repatriates for the meantime.

And should the passenger opt not to avail of the in-house meals, they also have the option to buy food and other essentials at the mini-mart located also inside the vessel,” the DOTR explained.

In line with this, the transportation department assured that it is also addressing sanitation issues within the quarantine facility.

It also said: “We again apologize for any shortcoming, and we will see to it that we take the necessary remedial action, as we both endure and acknowledge our sacrifices amid the difficulty of our situation.”

At the moment, Dubai-based airline Emirates has added 3 repatriation flights for Filipinos who wish to go back to the Philippines during this time of crisis, but this is only limited to citizens who meet the entry requirements.

As with other repatriation flights approved by the city of Dubai, Emirates will offer a modified in-flight service that reduces contact, as well as the risk of infection among passengers.

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