Coronavirus has claimed lives of 21 Filipinos in UAE, says envoy

Community urged to follow protocols set by the authorities

By Angel L. Tesorero

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Twenty one Filipinos in the UAE have died due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Philippine Ambassador to the Emirates Hjayceelyn Quintana said in a virtual interview with Philippine officials on Wednesday.

Speaking to Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) secretary Martin Andanar and PCOO undersecretary Rocky Ignacio in Manila, Quintana said the information was based on the notification of deaths the Philippine missions in the UAE have received from the authorities.

Quintana said 17 of the fatalities were from Dubai, while four were from Abu Dhabi.

According to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a total of 1,867 Filipinos worldwide have contracted COVID-19 as of Tuesday. There were 214 deaths and 513 recoveries so far globally.

As of Wednesday, the UAE has registered a total of 15,192 COVID cases, including 3,153 who have recovered from the disease. The UAE has maintained a low fatality rate.

During the interview, Quintana reiterated her constant reminder to her kababayans (compatriots) to observe the protocols set by the UAE government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Let us be more cautious in following the precautionary measures and let us observe the guidelines so we will not get infected,” Quintana said in Filipino.

The Philippine ambassador also assured her countrymen of the Philippine government’s continued assistance.

She said the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate in Dubai are continuing to process the repatriation of stranded nationals, despite the temporary suspension of flights to the Philippines.

“Once the travel ban is lifted, we will be ready to continue with the repatriation,” Quintana said. A total of 494 Filipinos have been repatriated since the start of COVID-19 outbreak.

Filipinos thankful to the UAE

In the same interview, Quintana also expressed the gratitude of Filipinos to the UAE, which she called as a “model of humanitarian giving.”

Earlier, the UAE government deployed seven metric tons of much-needed medical supplies to Manila.

Quintana said in a Facebook post: “This medical assistance in the time of COVID-19 is only the latest of numerous instances in which the UAE has come to the aid of the Filipino people.”

She recalled that in November 2013, the UAE donated US$10 million (Dh36.7 million) to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. She added earlier this year, the UAE’s Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) launched a campaign with the Philippine Embassy to aid 200,000 displaced families affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

Quintana said:“The Philippines has proven, time and again, that the UAE is a genuine friend at crucial times and therefore our leaders and the Filipino people will always remember UAE’s gesture of kindness, generosity and humanity, especially at this time when all countries have their own challenges to overcome.” #

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This report was first published by Gulf News.