MANILA, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government on Monday prohibited Filipino seafarers from disembarking in Ebola-hit countries in West Africa.
The order is contained in the guidelines issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and prevent the spread of the Ebola virus disease.
"There will be no shore leave for seafarers and no crew change in the ports of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the meantime," POEA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said in a statement.
All shipping principals, or employers, with ships operating or calling on the ports in the three West African countries were also ordered to provide Filipino seafarers with the necessary working gear and protective equipment.
"The guidelines are issued for our seafarers' welfare and protection. They could be vulnerable to Ebola due to the unavoidable circumstance where they have to interact with shore- based personnel who come on board ships," said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
The Philippines has many OFWs in Ebola-stricken countries. Data show that there are about 880 Filipinos living in Guinea, 1,979 in Sierra Leone and 632 in Liberia, including the 148 Filipino UN Peacekeeping Force.
On August 8, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola virus outbreak as an international public health emergency. This was after the disease killed nearly 1,000 in the three West African countries.