MANILA: Twenty-three Filipinos in Dubai have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while many more have tested positive and are currently undergoing treatment, officials said on Friday.
The Philippine consul general in Dubai, Paul Raymund Cortes, told reporters that the consulate has received numerous calls from Filipinos who contracted the disease.
“We coordinated right away with the Dubai police and health authorities to get and bring them to the hospital for treatment and contact tracing,” Cortes said, adding that the UAE is offering hospitalization free of charge and many Filipinos have already recovered.
On Thursday, Philippine Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana announced the recovery of the youngest Filipino COVID-19 patient in the UAE — one-year-old Zaine — three weeks after both he and his mother tested positive for the virus.
According to the embassy, Zaine’s mother experienced very mild symptoms during isolation while the baby was asymptomatic but tested positive seven times.
“I have known Zaine since he was born three months premature in October 2018 and have been personally praying for him since then. I thank God for giving Zaine another miracle,” Quintana said in a statement released by the embassy.
She urged all Filipinos in the UAE to continue to take appropriate precautions now that restrictions in the Gulf country are starting to ease.
“Now is the time for continued caution and not for complacency. I therefore urge all Filipinos in the UAE to remain vigilant in exercising COVID-19 precautions such as hand-washing, wearing facial masks, social distancing and avoiding going outside unnecessarily,” she said.
While hospitalization in the UAE is free, many Filipino workers are struggling amid business shutdowns. Around 1,500 workers have requested help to return to the Philippines, Cortes said, adding that the worst affected are receiving food assistance from the consulate, the Filipino community and from the Dubai police.
The Department of Labor and Employment is also providing one-time cash aid to stranded overseas Filipino workers.
In the repatriation process, priority will be given to those with valid tourist or visitor visas who do not require clearance from the UAE government, Cortes said, adding that nationals in the UAE who are seeking assistance may contact the consulate on WhatsApp numbers 0565015755 and 0565015756.