Dec 042014

Department of Foreign Affairs building. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The government still has no solid quarantine policy that it should implement for returning Filipinos from the three West African countries stricken with the deadly Ebola virus.

The government interagency body tasked to come up with such a policy failed to reach an agreement at a meeting in Malacañang last Wednesday, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is a member of the group.

“There was no decision reached in Malacañang so I think this needs to be studied,” said the DFA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Charles Jose.

Jose said the government will have to defer its plan to raise alert level 3 in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which would have called for the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos there.

The government agencies met last Wednesday to come up with a policy on whether or not it should implement quarantine regulations for Filipinos returning from the three afflicted West African states, and if it does, the length of the quarantine period.

The government has been observing a 21-day quarantine period for returning Filipinos, imposing it on the Filipino soldiers returning from United Nations peacekeeping duties in Liberia and who just last weekend completed the quarantine period.

There are 14 Filipino workers just arrived from the Ebola-stricken countries who are now being held at the Bureau of Quarantine office at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Jose told reporters that pending the Palace approval of a quarantine protocol, the members of a rapid response team had been instructed to go to the three Ebola-stricken countries “to do scoping work and talk to Filipinos there to ascertain their conditions.”

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the 110 peacekeepers from the Armed Forces who recently finished the 21-day quarantine will be exempted from the military’s red alert status in preparation for Supertyphoon “Ruby.”

Gazmin made the announcement during the heroes’ welcome for the returning peacekeepers on Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo.

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