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ALA Tianero among 16 staff in Polo-Riyadh stricken with Covid-19

22 June 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

ALA Tianero (right)  with Labor Attache Mustafa in Riyadh
Former Assistant Labor Attache in Hong Kong Henry Tianero and 15 other staff at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh have been taken to hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus disease. 

Tianero and 14 others have already been discharged after treatment, but one remains in isolation at the hospital.

The former Polo Hong Kong officer confirmed the report in a private message on Jun 21, shortly after hinting in an online post about his recovery.
He said he and his 14 colleagues were discharged after spending 11 days in the hospital where they were quarantined and isolated.

Luckily, his wife, Vangie was not infected, said the labor official who was well-loved by overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong because of his gentle ways and dedication to work.

Tianero served in Hong Kong for three years before being transferred to Malaysia in September 2017. After two years in the Kuala Lumpur, he was moved to Riyadh last year, also as ALA.
“Here in Riyadh we cannot prevent interactions with OFWs. Nature of the job. On June 7 all 32 complements underwent swab test procedure,” Tianero said.

Two days later, the swab test results showed 16 of the 32 staff, including Tianero himself, were infected.

Tianero's Facebook post after his discharge from hospital
He said those whose test results were negative, including his wife Vangie, all had Type O blood. In the case of the 16 positive patients, 15 were ether type A or B and one with O.

“I am type B and positive,” ALA Henry said. “My wife joined us during swab testing and she is negative; type O. I was afraid she might become positive since she was a PUI [person under investigation] but she was not affected.”

Previous studies have shown that people with type O blood are less susceptible to catching the coronavirus.

Tianero and wife Vangie (in white) with then Consul General to HK Bernardita Catalla,
who recently died of Covid-related ailment in Beirut, while she was serving as ambassador
On Jun 10, a statement from the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila said that Polo Riyadh would suspend its operations effective Sunday, Jun 14, because of the contagion.

Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa instructed all Polo officers and staff to work from home but would still respond to calls, offer consulting services to clients and provide counseling to OFWs in distress on a 24/7 basis.
He said the suspension was intended to prevent the escalation of infection among POLO staff and its clients and to allow a thorough disinfection of the office premises.

The swab testing was conducted on all POLO personnel after two employees tested positive, and  eventually transmitted the virus to the others in the post.

Meanwhile, Mustafa has said that there are about 23,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia who want to be repatriated after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

He said those affected included those whose companies have stopped operating, others were on “no work, no pay” contract; others were undocumented, and the rest, runaways.

Only about 5,000 have obtained final exit visas, and some 2,000 have been sent home, he said.

But he denied recent reports that some of the distressed OFWs had been scavenging in dump sites to feed themselves because they had no money to buy food.

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