Filipinos from Wuhan negative for COVID-19 so far

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2020 12:17 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2020 12:22 PM

30 Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City arrive with their families at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase on February 9, 2010. DFA Handout

MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday said the Filipinos who were repatriated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19, are doing well so far with none of them testing positive for the illness.

“All of them are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have symptoms (of the illness) in the past 3 days, except for one,” said Health Assistant Secretary for Public Health Services Maria Rosario Vergeire during a press conference.

Vergeire said a 38-year-old pregnant woman had high blood pressure and experienced swelling.

“What our medical team did, to be sure, was to bring her to our referral hospital,” she said.

The woman and her husband, who is also among the repatriates, are now at a hospital near New Clark City where the group is being quarantined.

“The rest are okay,” Vergeire said. “Hopefully the quarantine period will end this coming Saturday.”

In the past, repatriates have shown various symptoms of illnesses — from diarrhea to ear pain — but none have resulted in COVID-19, which has left 2,000 people dead already and 74,000 infected in China and other countries.

Once the quarantine period ends on Saturday, Vergeire said the repatriates will be “brought home to their respective provinces.”

She said some will be picked up by their relatives while others will be brought home by government services. 

“They will still be monitored,” the health official said, adding that regional offices of the Department of Health will be in charge of checking in on them to see if they are exhibiting any symptoms.

Asked what challenges the DOH faced during the repatriation, Vergeire said, “We can definitely say that the repatriation was successful. There were some minor gaps in the processes and these have been discussed.”

“Hopefully for the next batch, the minor gaps won’t happen again,” she said.

The government is now planning to repatriate possibly hundreds of Filipinos from a cruise ship that has more than 500 people infected with the dreaded COVID-19. While many are being infected by the disease in China, it’s mortality rate is lower than previous human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).