Some Filipino workers in Macau forced to go on leave due to virus outbreak

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2020 01:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2020 01:15 PM

An employee checks a lamp post, at the Venetian Macao casino and hotel, following the coronavirus outbreak in Macau, China February 5, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA - Some Filipino workers in Macau, one of the top gambling hubs in the world, were forced to go on leave as precautionary move in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, a Philippine official said Monday.

"We're monitoring the situation of workers in Macau. Some of them have been placed on forced leave," Hans Leo Cacdac, chief of the Philippines' Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, told reporters.

"We've been providing relief assistance, basic necessities, food, etc. We're assisting them at the moment," Cacdac said, without specifying how many were on forced leave.

Macau, a special administrative region of China, hosts an estimated 35,000 Filipinos as of January this year, according to the Philippine foreign ministry.

Cacdac said Philippine authorities are in coordination with the labor affairs bureau of the Chinese territory.

"Ginagabayan din ng Macau Ministry of Labor yung mga kumpanya and [to protect] the rights of workers under Macau law," he added.

(The Macau Ministry of Labor is providing guidance to companies to protect the rights of workers under Macau law.)

Last month, the Philippines banned travel to and from Macau as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the COVID-19. Manila also banned travel to and from China and Hong Kong.

But the travel restriction on Macau and Hong Kong was eventually lifted, particularly for Filipinos who hold working, student, and permanent resident visas.

As of Monday, the global death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 3,000 and has infected more than 88,000 people, a vast majority of which are in China where the disease originated late last year.