MANILA – The Philippine government has placed Myanmar under Alert Level 4 where all Filipinos are advised to evacuate as infections spike in the Southeast Asian nation.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already declared Alert Level 4 in Myanmar, meaning we want all the Filipinos to (be) evacuated back to the Philippines,” said Philippine Ambassador Eduardo Kapunan, Jr. in a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday.
In an advisory, the embassy said the country’s health care system is close to reaching its maximum capacity and may not be able to provide adequate medical attention to Filipinos who become ill in the coming weeks.
Having a common border with India, Kapunan said the prevalent SARS-CoV-2 variant in Myanmar is now the more transmissible Delta variant. On July 21 alone, it recorded 6,093 new infections pushing its active cases to 70,070.
The envoy said Myanmar is trying its best to contain the virus but “definitely they do not have enough equipment to face the crisis”.
He added that many health workers who were part of the coup movement cannot return to work over fears of getting arrested by the military junta.
“Marami sa mga health workers, doctors and nurses na sumama sa civil disobedience movement ngayon kahit na tawagin silang bumalik, natatakot sila baka maaresto sila (Many of the health workers joined the civil disobedience movement, now even if they are being called back they cannot over fears of getting arrested),” he shared.
Kapunan said there was one instance where a group of health workers tried to extend help on their personal capacity only to be raided by the military.
“Ang cover ng militar is that Covid victim sila, ‘pag dating doon pinag-aaresto sila so getting back this workforce is I think a little bit difficult (The military’s cover is that they are Covid victims, but when they reach the place they arrested them so getting back this workforce is I think will be a little difficult),” he added.
The envoy said two Filipino nationals have already succumbed to Covid-19 in Myanmar.
Fearing the coronavirus situation might worsen in the next few weeks, Kapunan urged all Filipinos to avail of the embassy’s repatriation flights, the first of which will be mounted on August 3.
“Mabuti pang umuwi na kayo ngayon habang hindi pa Nadi-deklara ng WHO na ang Myanmar ay masyadong malala na dahil ang aabutan niyong quarantine procedure sa Pilipinas might be more stringent than the normal (It’s better to go home now before Myanmar’s situation worsens because the quarantine protocols in the Philippines will definitely be more stringent than the normal when that time comes),” he said.
Out of the estimated 500 Filipinos in Myanmar, Kapunan said only about 160 registered for repatriation. (PNA)