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No Filipino among coronavirus cases in China, says Phl ambassador

28 January 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

No Filipino so far has been sick of the coronavirus, says Ambassador Sta Romana

The Philippine Ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, has said no Filipino has been stricken by the deadly novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan city.

“No report of a Filipino in China infected by the novel coronavirus thus far,” he said in an online message late on Jan 26.

But he said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing is closely monitoring the situation, and advised Filipino nationals who want to be evacuated from the stricken areas, particularly Wuhan, to contact the nearest consulate in Shanghai, +86 139 1747 7112.

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Ambassador Sta Romana also says there is as yet no plans to evacuate Filipinos from the blockaded city.

"We are closely assessing the situation of Filipinos in Wuhan in coordination with the Shanghai Consulate and DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). All options are under discussion, no decision yet tonight," he said in his message.

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Embassy records show only four registered Filipinos in Wuhan. The actual number, however, could be far higher, as many Filipinas are known to work there illegally as domestic workers.

One of them, Malou G., told The SUN in an online message that she and two other Filipinas managed to flee Wuhan the night before the city, along with most parts of Hubei province, were locked down in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
All roads leading to Wuhan are closed (credit to the owner)

Malou said she and her friends got scared when the police told them they would all be moved to one place and wouldn’t be let out until Feb. 3

“Gusto po nila kami isama sa isang building na pinaglagyan sa mga tao pero hindi namalayan ng mga pulis na naka exit kami, ma’am. Bawal po kasi ang lumabas sa mga province.”

Luckily, she said one of her friends who works as a teacher in the city, managed to get them high speed train tickets to Shandong. They left Wuhan at 9pm on Jan 22, then caught another train to Beijing where they are now staying.

She said Wuhan was already a virtual ghost town when they left, with most people either in hospitals or holed up at home, afraid of being infected.

She also related seeing several people, apparently sick, suddenly crumpling to the ground where they would be later picked up by ambulances.

“Parang ‘Train to Busan’, maam”, she said, referring to the hit Korean movie that centered on a group of terrified train passengers running away from a countrywide viral outbreak that turned the afflicted into zombies.

She also confirmed the presence of many foreigners in Wuhan, including Filipinas like her who work secretly as domestic helpers. “Marami pa sila sa Wuhan, ma’am,” she said.

Malou related that their employers had let them go a week before their escape. They were provided accommodation by the coordinator of an international school, but they survived by mostly eating porridge.

Shortly afterwards she said chaos erupted, with the wet markets being ordered to discard their products, and residents told they would be put in isolation.
Wuhan is a virtual dead city, says Malou (Credit to owner)

One of her friends who remained in Wuhan later told her they were “ok” as they were rescued by a certain “Ma’am Lalaine” who managed to get help from the Consulate in Shanghai.

While fearful of her safety, Malou does not seem inclined to return to the Philippines just yet, clearly hoping she and her friends would soon be able to ride out the storm sparked by the deadly virus.

Escaping the lockdown and the contamination itself are enough to give her hope.

“Malakas siguro resistensya ko,” she mused.

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