Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello has confirmed that Filipino OFWs entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) currently are being required to undergo “institutional” quarantine procedures if they are only vaccinated with China’s Sinovac (trade name: CoronaVac).
The Sinovac vaccine is the vaccine-of-choice of the Philippine government, with at least 40 million doses having been ordered from the supplier, according to head vaccine implementer Charlie Galvez.
Bello disclosed this quarantine requirement which costs some 3,500 Saudi riyals per head is, however, not being required of arriving passengers who had been jabbed with Western vaccines like Pfizer BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen (made by Johnson&Johnson).
Bello said this is quite lamentable as all vaccines, regardless of brand, provide protection to people against Covid19.
Bello said he is sending an urgent request to the Saudi government not to require Filipino OFWs entering the KSA to undergo institutional quarantine if injected only with Sinovac.
Last week, the Philippines suspended the deployment of OFWs to Saudi after being informed the workers are being forced to shoulder the costs of the 10-day quarantine procedure.
After a few days, the deployment ban was lifted upon assurance from the Saudi ambassador to Manila that the employers are being obliged to foot the bill for the quarantine of their personnel.
The Philippine Statistics Authority says currently there are around 500,000 OFWS working in Saudi Arabia.