MANILA - More than 700 Filipino workers abroad returned home on Thursday, adding up to thousands of others who have been repatriated as the world reels from the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine government said.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the new batch of repatriates includes 439 Filipino seafarers from the United States and 303 distressed workers from Kuwait.
The seafarers are from the Norwegian Joy and Regent Splendor ships in California, while the repatriates from Kuwait are those who availed of an amnesty program there.
DFA Assistant Secretary Ed Menez said many Filipino crew members are coming home because "most cruise ship companies have stopped operations."
The ministry said in a statement that a total of 9,628 Filipinos have returned home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the number, 6,680 are seafarers while 2,948 are land-based workers.
The country started repatriating Filipinos abroad in February due to the disease that swept the world after emerging from China late last year.
The latest group of repatriates underwent strict medical screening and health briefing upon their arrival, the DFA said.
They will also undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
"Filipinos who require emergency assistance should immediately contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate or send a message through DFA-OUMWA's OFW Help Facebook page," Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said in the statement.
"The DFA, together with its over 90 Foreign Service Posts across the globe, stands ready to provide the necessary assistance," she added.