Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia fear that they contacted the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) after learning that Assistant Labor Attache Henry Tianero tested positive for the respiratory illness.
Louie Perez, an OFW in Riyadh, stressed that they cannot afford to be infected with COVID-19 since they lack resources.
“Ang inaalala namin dito ay ang magkasakit ang bawat isa sa amin. Napakabigat niyan kung wala na kaming makakain at magkakasakit pa kami, wala na rin kaming ibibili ng gamot,” Perez said in a video acquired by DZRH.
“Hindi napakadaling sitwasyon ang magkasakit dito sa Saudi Arabia ng COVID-19,” he added.
Perez reiterated their appeal for the Philippine government to hasten the repatriation of OFWs from Saudi Arabia, and expressed worry that they will have to stay longer in the Middle Eastern country if even one of them tests positive for COVID-19.
“Kapag nahawaan ng kahit isa man lang rito, sigurado lahat kami ay magdurusa at baka tuluyan ng hindi na makauwi sa ating bansa,” said Perez who also expressed concern on who will arrange for their repatriation with Tianero being hospitalized.
Department of Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestro Bello III and Tianero, himself, confirmed that the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
Tianero revealed that he tested positive for the respiratory illness on June 7, two days after he met and spoke with a group of stranded OFWs who seek repatriation from Riyadh.
Based on a video acquired by DZRH, the face mask of Tianero did not cover his nose or mouth when he addressed the group of OFWs.
Also, in a message to DZRH reporter Sherwin Alfaro, Tianero sees no need to have the OFWs tested for COVID-19 even though he had close contact with them prior to his hospitalization.
“No naman since we all go around to camps to see, assess all workers,” said Tianero when asked whether the OFWs that he spoke to should undergo COVID-19 testing.
“Maybe in other camps since our job is interaction with all workers,” he added.
Tianero also confirmed that 15 personnel of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, and Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa tested positive for the respiratory illness.