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Phl to repatriate Filipinos from Wuhan, but they will be quarantined on arrival

29 January 2020

By The SUN
Hankou railway in Wuhan has been heavily guarded since the lockdown (SCMP photo)
The Philippine government has announced that it is ready to repatriate Filipinos from China's Hubei province, including its capital, Wuhan city, but the returnees will be quarantined for 14 days as part of efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Wuhan, identified as the epicenter of the contagion, has been locked down along with much of Hubei since Jan 23. The coronavirus has afflicted nearly 3,000 people in China alone, and more than 106 have died.

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A statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Jan . 28 said the government is arranging for special flights for those who opt to leave Wuhan. They should contact the Philippine Consulate in Shanghai which has jurisdiction over Hubei if they want to get on a flight home.

Upon arrival in Manila the returnees will be taken to a health facility where they will be isolated for 14 days, and their condition monitored constantly.

Those who choose to remain in the area are advised to comply with orders from the local government to help prevent the spread of the new virus further.

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The decision to evacuate Filipinos from the afflicted province came in the wake of appeals for help by some of those trapped by the lockdown, mostly through social media.

Two Filipinos who made a video to ask to be rescued said they were afraid for their safety and wellness, as the city has become a virtual ghost town, with many residents either in hospitals or preferring to stay indoors while waiting to ride out the health scare.

Most shops in Wuhan are closed, and roads deserted 

They also feared catching the virus or running out of food should the lockdown remain in force for an extended period.

Reports in Manila say around 300 Filipinos are in Hubei province, and about half are in Wuhan. Actual figures are hard to come by, however, as many of the Filipinos work there illegally, mostly as domestic workers.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a media briefing after meeting with DFA officials on Jan. 27 that the returning Filipinos will all be put in one facility where they will be monitored and checked for any symptoms during the two-week period.

He said the government will bear the cost of the quarantine.



"We will have to spend for that, certainly. As part of the quarantine measure, we will have to sustain them within the 14 days that they are isolated," he said.

Philippine ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, said the government in Manila has also decided not to issue visas for the meantime to Chinese applicants from Hubei or those who recently traveled to the province.

"Also some Wuhan tourists are currently under observation and isolation due to possible infection, though still to be confirmed by tests," he said.

No Filipino, whether in China or elsewhere, has been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Below is the public advisory from the DFA on the planned evacuation.

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DFA to Repatriate Filipinos in Wuhan City, Hubei Province

28 January 2020 —  The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is ready to repatriate Filipinos in Wuhan City and the rest of Hubei Province who wish to come home, subject to China’s rules on Disease Containment, including immigration clearance and quarantine process, among others.

The DFA is making available special flights from Hubei Province to the Philippines. Hence, Filipinos in the area who wish to be repatriated should contact the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai:

PHILIPPINE CONSULATE GENERAL, SHANGHAI
Suite 301 Metrobank Plaza
1160 West Yan’An Road, Changning District, Shanghai 200052
Tel. No.: (+86-21) 6281-8020
Fax No.: (+86-21) 6281-8023
Hotline No.: (+86) 1391 747-7112
Email: shanghai.pcg@dfa.gov.ph / shanghaipcg@hotmail.com
Website: www.shanghaipcg.dfa.gov.ph

Upon arrival in the Philippines, Filipino repatriates will be subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine per guidelines of the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Filipinos who wish to stay in China should heed advisories from local health authorities, and cooperate with efforts to quell the further spread of 2019-novel Coronavirus.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research Ernesto C. Abella likewise underscores the call of Chinese government that Filipinos in the affected areas needing medical assistance and treatment should go to the nearest medical facility and seek proper medical care, including treatment and quarantine.

During emergency situations, Filipinos in Hubei Province may contact, in addition to the aforementioned Embassy details, any of the two (2) 24-hour Hotlines established by China Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA): +86-27-8712-2256 and +86-27-8781-1173. The said MFA Hotlines can also be contacted should Filipinos need assistance, supplies, and other needs. ***

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