By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine government is on top of the situation to ensure the safety of Filipinos in China amid the reported surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in one of the world’s most populous nations, Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime Florcruz said.

In an interview on Wednesday, Florcruz said the Philippine Embassy in China is ready to provide assistance to Filipinos who will be affected by the spike in Covid-19 cases.

Tuluy-tuloy naman po ang pagtulong ng gobyerno sa kung sinuman ang nangangailangan (The government will continue to provide assistance to anyone),” he said.

Nandiyan ang embassy na tumutulong sa kung sinuman ang may kailangan. At ina-advise sila na mag-ingat hangga’t kaya (The embassy is there to help everyone who is in need of assistance. And there is an advice for them to be careful as much as possible),” Florcruz added.

To date, there are an estimated 14,000 members of the Filipino community in China, Florcruz said.

A “high-level” meeting between World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese officials was held on Dec. 30, 2022 to get further information about Covid-19 situation in China.

During the meeting, officials from China’s National Health Commission and the National Disease Control and Prevention Administration briefed WHO on the Chinese government’s Covid-19 pandemic response.

WHO, on the other hand, asked for regular sharing of “specific and real-time” Covid-19 data

Covid-19 cases ‘under control’

Florcruz said the Covid-19 situation in China “seems to be under control.”

Despite this, he advised the Filipino community in China to stay cautious and follow the health protocols.

Kumakalat pa rin sa buong China kaya maingat pa rin ang mga tao. Advice sa mga tao na mag-mask pa rin, umiwas sa malalaking crowds pero ina-advise na sila to live with Covid (It’s still spreading to other parts of China, that’s why the people here remain careful. The advice to the public is to continue wearing mask, avoid large crowds, and live with Covid),” Florcruz said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday flew to China for a three-day state visit.

However, the Covid-19 situation in China prevented Marcos to hold a meeting with the Filipino community.

While some Filipinos were “disappointed,” they understood that the reason not to schedule a meeting with them during Marcos’ stay in China is valid, Florcruz said.

Naiintindihan naman nila na una, maikli lang ang bisita, ikalawa, maraming protocols na kailangang sundin, lalo na health protocols. Kaya naiintindihan naman po ng community dito (They understand that [Marcos’] visit [to China] is just a short trip and that there are so many protocols, including health protocols. That’s why the Filipino community understand),” he said.

Marcos and the Philippine delegation traveled to China in a “bubble” arrangement to minimize the risk of exposure to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, FlorCruz said members of the Filipino community in China are also doing fine despite the developments in the contested South China Sea.

“Hindi naman po naapektuhan ang kanilang buhay, ang kanilang trabaho, at seguridad. Wala po naman tayong nababalitaang masamang pangyayari. Hindi po sila naapektuhan (Their lives, jobs and security are not affected. We have not received any untoward incidents involving them. They are not affected),” he said, adding that Chinese nationals treat Filipinos well and with respect.

“Respetado po ang mga Pilipino dito. At ganoon po ang nakikita natin sa ground dito sa araw-araw na buhay (The Filipinos here are respected and that’s what we observe on the ground),” he added. (With a report from Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA)