DFA repatriation team arrives in Wuhan City

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2020 11:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2020 11:44 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)—A team put together by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) arrived in China's Wuhan City to finalize the preparations to bring home Filipinos from Hubei province, the epicenter of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the DFA said representatives from the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai met with members of the Filipino community in Wuhan to discuss the details of the repatriation.

As of Thursday, the DFA said 45 Filipinos are confirmed for repatriation. Upon arrival in the Philippines, they will be brought to the Athlete's Village in New Clark City in Tarlac for a 14-day quarantine period.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said the repatriated Filipinos will be treated with "care and dignity" in facilities of the Athletes' Village.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III assured the returning Filipinos that they will be given rooms and meals during their stay in the facility.

The facility was last used in December 2019 during the Southeast Asian Games.

The government previously eyed the Mega Drug Rehabilitation Facility in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija but Duque said the facility in New Clark City is more “strategically located” with “open space and a nice ambiance.”

The returning Filipinos would be flown via a chartered flight and land at the Clark International Airport. Those who will not show symptoms will be immediately be transferred to New Clark City, while those who will be found to exhibit flu-like symptoms will be brought to a hospital.

During their stay at the quarantine facility, the DOH will provide all their needs from hygiene kits, to disinfectant solutions, medical logistics and even food.

One room, big enough to house a family of three, will be allotted per person.

Duque stressed that well wishers and family members of the repatriated OFWs will not be allowed in the facility. They may, however, be able to contact each other through available wifi services.

“The quarantine means very minimal contact and so it is not advised that the families will go there to meet with them,” he said.

The secretary also said that their movements will be limited within the building they are housed.

Health undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, meanwhile, said they have identified “5 brave personnel” who will fly to China and conduct medical assessments of the 45 Filipinos who have signified their intention to be repatriated.

Bayugo did not disclose their identities and what kind of assessment they will make. But in a separate interview, Undersecretary Eric Domingo said that they will be assessing the overseas Filipinos and see if any of them exhibit any flu-like symptoms.

The DOH personnel will be stationed in the chartered flight and will not leave the plane as the Filipinos are assessed by Chinese health workers prior to boarding the aircraft.

The repatriated Filipinos are expected to arrive this weekend.

- with a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News