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PCG: Search ongoing for OFWs who escaped quarantine facilities

Search is still ongoing for seven overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who escaped their quarantine facilities pending release of their swab test results for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Philippine Coast Guard said Monday.

In a statement, the PCG said eight OFWS were reported to have escaped as of May 18 but authorities already traced the location of one of them, a 49-year-old male. The said OFW tested positive for COVID-19 while the rest tested negative for the disease.

The PCG said the patient, who lives in Quezon City, was immediately brought to a COVID-19 treatment facility in Pasay City. His family members and other individuals whom he had direct contact with were also put in isolation and will undergo COVID-19 RT-PCR testing.

According to the PCG, the OFW who tested positive for COVID-19 will face charges for violating the quarantine protocols once he already recovers from the disease.

The seven others will be charged too as they also compromised the health of other individuals, the PCG added.

In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said stricter measures will be implemented to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

“Patuloy po ang paghahanap sa iba, ito naman po ay para sa kanilang kalusugan din at kalusugan ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

“I think there will be increased security na po in the different hotels that we are utilizing as quarantine areas.”

Last week, PCG commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said up to 18,000 OFWs were stranded in Metro Manila as local government units in their home provinces refused to accept them amid the COVID-19 threat.

Some of the stranded OFWs complained about their continued stay at quarantine facilities, exceeding the recommended 14-day quarantine.

The PCG appealed to the OFWs to cooperate with the health and safety protocols being enforced to them in this time of pandemic.

“We know how much you want to be with your family. We know how hard it is to not be with them during this crisis, but we need your cooperation to make this measure work,” PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said. — with Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News