A total of 135,290 overseas Filipinos (OFs) have been repatriated by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.
In its COVID-related repatriation efforts, the DFA brought home an additional 10,573 Filipinos last week.
Of the number, 38.9 percent or 52,639 OFs are sea-based while 61.1 percent or 82,651 are land-based.
Last week, the DFA repatriated 8,112 Filipinos from the Middle East through 27 special commercial repatriation flights and two DFA-chartered flights.
A total of 3,072 repatriates arrived from the United Arab Emirates, many of whom availed themselves of the amnesty for overstaying residence and tourist visa holders. The DFA also brought home Filipinos from Iraq and Israel.
The department likewise facilitated the return of 2,984 sea-based Filipinos, including two medical repatriations from Seychelles and Brazil.
The seafarers came from Canada, United States, Japan, India, China, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Greece.
The DFA also brought home 250 stranded nationals in Papua New Guinea and Melbourne, Australia on board two special commercial repatriation flights.
Meanwhile, over 600 Filipinos who have returned from abroad are now in hospital after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The DOH also reported that 201 foreign nationals in the country have been confirmed infected with the deadly virus.
Based on the DOHâ€™s â€œCOVID-19 Philippine Situationer,â€ a total of 247,048 returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) arrived in the country since the start of the pandemic.
Of the number, 5,151 were confirmed positive for the infection, 2,710 of them land-based Filipinos and 2,441 sea-based.
The DOH said 634 of those who tested positive have remained in hospitals while 4,447 have recovered and five died due to infection.
A total of 238,198 ROFs, including 1,191 transferees from Sabah, have been released from quarantine facilities,
Aside from those who have returned from various countries, the DOH said there were 1,844 cases of Filipinos staying overseas who have tested positive for COVID.
In a related development, over 600,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the pandemic have sought financial assistance from the government.
Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have recorded a continuing increase in the number of returning OFWs and those stranded abroad who are in need of cash assistance.
Based on reports from the Philippine Overseas Labour Offices (POLOs) and OWWA, the number of those seeking cash assistance soared to 604,403 as of August 15.
â€œA total of 604,403 onsite and repatriated OFWs applied for cash aid and close to half or 272,000 requests have been approved,â€ Bello said.
He lamented that the DOLE budget of P2.5 billion for P10,000 cash assistance for about 250,000 displaced OFWs is almost depleted.