5,295 OFWs in Macau affected by suspension of work due to COVID-19

A total of 5,295 Filipinos in Macau were affected by the suspension of business activities after authorities enforced a hard lockdown Monday following the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese territory since the pandemic began in 2020.

The Department of Migrant Workers said these OFWs are working in the hotel and gaming industries.

Around 30 casinos and other non-essential businesses were ordered shut for at least five days starting Monday and people were ordered to stay at home.

Macau, like China mainland, is strictly enforcing a “Zero Covid policy.” Since mid-June, there were 1,500 Covid-19 infections in Macau.

“To date, 57 Filipinos have tested positive in red zones (buildings in lockdown) and yellow zones (control zones) and hotel quarantines while 26 OFWs are in designated hotel quarantine facilities having tested positive for Covid-19 or are close contacts,” the DMW said in a statement.

All foreigners were required to take antigen tests every day and RT-PCR tests every other day in testing facilities.

The DMW said it is ready to aid the OFWs in Macau who got infected by COVID-19 or those who were affected by the suspension of businesses for the week.

So far, the Philippine Consulate General in Macau has provided food packs, medicines, and vitamin supplements to 100 OFWs who initially affected by the lockdown to help tide them through the weeklong suspension period.

“We are closely monitoring the situation because of the ‘No Pay Leave’ policy that the Macau government has declared for the entire week. Our consul general will be using diplomatic channels to bring our concern over this labor policy to the relevant authorities in Macau. Meanwhile, all hands are on deck to bring as many COVID-care packages and food packs to OFWs who may have neither the means nor the mobility to buy food and medicines,” DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said.

Ople urged OFWs in Macau to cooperate, stay at home and comply with health protocols. Macau police is strictly monitoring people going out of their homes and stringent punishments would be imposed for those who disobeyed.

There are 26,400 OFWs in Macau with a population of 600,000. Half of the OFWs in Macau are household workers, who stay in their own flats under a “live-out” arrangement.

OWWA Covid-19 Assistance for Active Members Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Cacdac explains, “active OWWA members who are Covid-19 symptomatic and requiring hospitalization or facility isolation may avail of the agency’s Covid After Care Financial Assistance benefit amounting to US$200.”

“All other OFWs, however, may avail of the food packs provided by the consulate for the duration of the suspension period. These requests for assistance are evaluated in accordance with the OWWAs guidelines,” Cacdac added.

Ople and DFA Acting Migrant Workers’ Undersecretary Eddie de Vega met via teleconference Philippine Consul General Porfirio Mayo, Jr. as well as leaders of the Filipino communities to harmonize efforts to reach out to as many affected OFWs as possible.

“Based on the assessment of Labor Attaché Atty. Ma. Nena German, the probability of mass retrenchment of workers during the weeklong suspension of non-essential business activities will not take place. This is purely a health-related and temporary measure meant to disrupt the spread of the coronavirus,” Ople said.

OFWs may reach the Philippine Consulate in Macau through the following hotline numbers:

OWWA: 6258-7887

POLO: 6687-2509

They may also connect with their Filipino community associations and networks to relay their requests to the consulate.

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