Fetalvero: The OFW quarantine experience

Noemi Fetalvero

IN THE olden times quarantine, a health protocol, was not so much of a fretful word. Simply put, it is a confinement of someone with a communicable disease and those inflicted were not that many.

With Covid-19, quarantine has affected every single human being on planet Earth regardless of one’s status or circumstances in life.

The most affected are those in the labor sector and most especially our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a sector that delivers millions of dollars into the Philippine economy. The effect is not purely economics. Case in point is the fact that there are OFWs who are spending more time in quarantine facilities than with their families.

Allow me to cite one situational nightmare under this quarantine health protocol. An OFW who enjoys a three-week vacation to his home country will end up in a quarantine facility in Manila upon his arrival at the international airport. Fourteen days pass, by then he is allowed to go home to the province where he will again be subjected to another 14-day quarantine before he is allowed to go home to his family. It will be a “hello and goodbye” scenario since his vacation benefit gives him only three weeks supposedly with his family.

There are instances wherein an OFW, after spending time in a quarantine facility, will be allowed to go home to his family upon which he will be placed under the status of “person under monitoring.” He will be confined to a bedroom and not allowed to be in close contact with his wife and children. Could you emphatize how difficult that is for the children to be barred from embracing or giving their daddy or mommy a bear hug?

A travel from one island to another is likewise a pain in the neck considering the documentary requirements—a health certificate, a swab test, a barangay clearance, a travel pass and a certificate of acceptance from the barangay of destination. If the place where you are is under enhanced community quarantine, there is limited transportation. Some will have to walk from one government center to the next to get these requirements. Then upon arrival, you will be placed under “person under monitoring” status hence members of the family, including grandchildren, will not be allowed to welcome you with open arms.

This endurance test of discomfort and solitary confinement is by and large for a bigger cause and that is to preserve mankind.