Philippines to repatriate workers from Ebola-hit West Africa

Philippines to repatriate workers from Ebola-hit West Africa
Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 30, 2014.

MANILA  - The Philippines is pulling out almost 3,500 workers from three West African states due to the Ebola outbreak, the foreign ministry said on Sunday, a day after Filipino troops in Liberia were ordered to go home. "We are preparing for the implementation of mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in view of the threat posed by Ebola," Charles Jose, a foreign ministry spokesman, said in a text message to reporters.

There are 1,979 workers in Sierra Leone, 880 in Guinea and 632 in Liberia, including 148 soldiers deployed with a UN peacekeeping force, the ministry said.

On Saturday, the defence ministry announced it was recalling all soldiers deployed in Liberia.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the current Ebola epidemic - the world's worst ever with 1,427 documented deaths - will likely take six to nine months to halt.

Jose did not say how the government would repatriate the workers. Earlier this month, the Philippines sent a boat to evacuate 800 workers from Libya, a country experiencing civil conflict, and chartered two planes to fly them home from Malta.

There are an estimated 10 million Filipino workers across the world, sending home around US$20 billion (S$25 billion) every year in remittances.

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