National Task Force Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. warned that the country might be “overwhelmed” with the arrival of 42,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by May and June.

“I would like to inform you na malaki po ang problema po natin sa returning OFWs. Kasi po sa ngayon po more than 27,000 na po ang nandito sa Manila, at mayroon pa pong darating na 42,000 this coming May and June,” Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte in a meeting Tuesday night, broadcast over state television.

Galvez said that of the 30,000 repatriated OFWs on self-quarantine, 22,432 were tested and 465 were found positive for Covid-19.

All returning OFWs are tested and quarantined for 14 days as part of the government’s “targeted testing” measures to detect cases of Covid-19.

Some hotels in Metro Manila have offered rooms to isolate OFWs, and Galvez said the government was seeking help from other government agencies to help in the isolation of returning workers.

Some repatriated OFWs have complained that test results took more than 14 days to be released, leading to a longer stay in quarantine facilities.

“Kung hindi po natin ni-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test ito, itong 465 magiging parang second wave at kawawa po ‘yung ating local government units,” Galvez said.

Galvez suggested in the meeting that the “way forward” was to localize the Covid-19 National Action Plan through local government units, and impose lockdowns per barangay, instead of city, province or region-wide lockdowns.

“Ang ibig sabihin paliitin na lang natin. Ang gagawin po natin is ‘yung barangay na mayroong cases ‘yon po ang ila-lockdown natin para ma-preserve natin po ‘yung ating [economy],” Galvez said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro