Filipinos in China urged to go on 'self-quarantine' to dodge coronavirus

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2020 10:01 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2020 10:30 AM

Gov't studying Wuhan rescue 

A medical official takes the body temperature of a man at the departure hall of the airport in Changsha, Hunan Province, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, China, Jan. 27, 2020. Thomas Peter, Reuters

MANILA (UPDATE) — Filipinos in China are advised to go on "self-quarantine" by staying indoors and "minimizing" contact with crowds to avoid a new strain of coronavirus, Manila's envoy to Beijing said Tuesday, as officials in the Philippines discussed evacuation plans.

Some "2 or 3 dozen" Filipinos have expressed desire to go home from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the pathogen that has killed some 81 people, said Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana. 

If they are repatriated, Filipinos will be in contact with crowds at the airport and face a higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, he said. 

The possible evacuation of Filipinos also requires China's permission. Doctors should accompany them on the flight, and they should be quarantined after arriving in Manila, he added. 

"Ang ayaw nating mangyari na madala ang virus dito sa Pilipinas ng mga Pinoy mismo," Sta. Romana told DZMM. 

(We don't want Filipinos to bring the virus here in the Philippines.) 

"Ang abiso namin sa Filipino community, self-quarantine. Lalo na sa Wuhan, stay in your homes, minimize contact with others... Ito sa ngayon ang safest way," he said. 

(We advised the Filipino community to practice self-quarantine. Especially for those in Wuhan, stay in your homes, minimize contact with others. This is the safest way for now.) 

Filipinos in the central Chinese city are advised to wear tight masks, gloves, and boots should they need to go outside, according to public health expert Susan Mercado.

"If you’re in the hot zone, the thing to do is to stay home because we know the mode of transmission, you have to be close to another person to get it. So if you're not interacting with anybody how can you get the disease," she told ANC's Headstart.

"What we need to do is limit the movement of those who are sick and avoid those who are sick. If they get well and they fight off the virus, the virus dies in them."

Wuhan - a normally bustling transport hub that is home to a huge steel and auto industry - hosts some 150 Filipinos, including students, teachers, domestic workers and factory workers, said Sta. Romana.

Authorities have yet to receive reports of any Filipino in China who was infected with the new coronavirus, said the ambassador. 

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The new coronavirus, which can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory infection, has in a matter of weeks infected more than 2,700 people, and spread across China and to a dozen other countries -- including the US, France and Australia. 

It remains unclear if the virus, known as 2019nCoV, is contagious before symptoms of fever or respiratory difficulties appear, said the World Health Organization. 

Eleven foreigners in the Philippines are quarantined for possible infection from the Wuhan coronavirus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Monday. 

The public should wash their hands frequently and wear face masks to avoid getting sick, the health department said. 

Meanwhile, Filipinos in China who need assistance should contact the Consulate at hotline (+852) 9155 4023, the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said. 

With reports from Agence France-Presse 

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