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Missionaries Not Native To Philippines To Be Transferred Out

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – All missionaries not native to the Philippines will return from that country to their homes for self-isolation and reassignment.

The announcement was made Tuesday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after the Philippines placed a significant part of the country on quarantine because of the growing number of coronavirus infections.

According to the Associated Press, officials have told thousands of foreign travelers need to leave the northern Philippines by Friday or they will be stranded in the region.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared an “enhanced community quarantine” on the main island of Luzon that requires millions of people to stay mostly at home and restricts land, air and sea travel.

“With a new travel directive from the Philippines government, and due to a general disruption to their ability to carry out their service, all missionaries who are not native to the Philippines are being moved out of that country,” said Church spokesperson Daniel Woodruff.

Missionaries will be sent home, asked to stay in self-isolation for 14 days as a precaution, and then will begin new assignments.

Utahn Kiirsi Hellewell said it was a rollercoaster of emotion when she heard about the changes for her daughter, who was serving in the Philippines.

“At this point, we’re just waiting, praying, hoping everything’s okay and really hoping that we get to hear from her soon,” she said. “We’re going through a unique situation that none of us have experienced in our lifetimes, so that’s been extremely hard.”

Those missionaries native to the Philippines will remain in place.

Fourteen people have died of COVID-19 in the Philippines, the most in Southeast Asia.


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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