Migrant fishers in Yilan County on Saturday called for increased support from the government to help them avoid contracting COVID-19.
A Philippine fisherman, identified as Adones, said he has been unable to purchase masks at his local pharmacy due to long lines.
Facing the same situation, Julio Guimawa, another Philippine fisherman, said that his employer only ever gave him one mask and that was when he visited a hospital for treatment after fracturing his left hand in a fall while at sea last month.
The lack of masks is not only affecting Nanfangao Port (南方澳) .
Norcelito Lebron, a Philippine fisherman at Wushi Harbor (烏石港), said that his labor broker has been giving him and his coworkers four masks each per month.
“I am very worried about the pandemic, but I am convinced that the government is committed to containing the coronavirus, because coast guard personnel take our temperature every time we return to shore,” Lebron said.
The fishermen expressed their concerns on Saturday as Saint Christopher’s Church in Taipei delivered clothes, food, masks and information on COVID-19 prevention.
Gioan Tran Van Thiet, an assistant priest at the church who visits migrant fishermen in Yilan every week, said that he and his volunteers were helping because the assistance provided by the fishers’ employers and brokers is limited.
“Many of the fishermen only know the virus is deadly, they do not know to how avoid it and do not have the resources do so,” Thiet said.
The novel coronavirus would spread easily among the community, because crews work and sleep in relatively cramped conditions where social distancing is difficult, Thiet said.
Ministry of Labor statistics from the end of February showed that there were 12,368 migrant fishers in Taiwan.
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