Philippines calls for repatriation of Filipinos in China over coronavirus fears

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is calling for the repatriation of Filipinos in China amid the continued global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The Department of Foreign Affairs made the announcement in a statement on Thursday night, January 30, saying the first batch of repatriates were expected arrive back in the country as early as next week.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs stands ready to repatriate Filipinos in China amid health concerns brought about by 2019 novel-coronavirus outbreak,” the agency said.

The Philippine government’s latest move widens the scope of measures taken to respond to the virus. The DFA earlier said voluntary repatriation was available for Filipinos who wished to come home.

What to expect. The DFA said it will repatriate Filipinos in China “subject to China’s rules on disease containment, including immigration clearances, quarantine process, among others.”

Filipinos in Wuhan City – the epicenter of the virus – and the rest of Hubei province will be among those prioritized in the first batch of repatriates.

The DFA said Filipinos in other areas of China who wanted to be part of the first batch repatriated should contact the Philippine Embassy in Beijing or their nearest consulate general by Monday, February 3. (LIST: What Filipinos in China can do amid coronavirus scare)

The DFA assured the public that Filipino repatriates will be subjected to 14 days of mandatory quarantine following the guidelines of the Department of Health after they return to the country.

The latest in the Philippines. Health officials on Thursday confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country in a female patient who travelled to the Philippines from Wuhan.

The 38-year old woman is currently being treated in a government hospital, where she was admitted on January 25, though was no longer showing symptoms.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque gave assurances the Bureau of Quarantine was checking the patient's flight details to trace who she may have come into contact with. The patient traveled to Cebu and Dumaguete.

As of Thursday, the virus has killed 170 people and infected over 7,700 people worldwide. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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