THE Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday, February 6, that 45 Filipinos who have signified intention to be repatriated from Hubei, China will be quarantined for 14 days at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
Hubei is considered the ground zero of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) outbreak. Wuhan, which is in Hubei, is the epicenter.
The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who will be repatriated from Hubei province are set to leave China on February 8 and arrive in the Philippines early morning Sunday, February 9.
But Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said in a press briefing Thursday afternoon that the schedule of departure might change, as the process is not just controlled by the Philippines.
"The repatriation entails coordination with Chinese authorities and compliance with Chinese rules," he said.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque said the Inter-Agency Task Force has finalized the protocols for repatriation of the OFWs from Hubei and assured that all the OFWs will be treated with utmost care as they go through the quarantine process.
He said the New Clark City was identified as a quarantine area after it was offered by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
The government earlier identified a quarantine facility inside Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija for the repatriated Filipinos.
But Duque said the facility at the New Clark City is more strategically located and each room has toilet. He clarified, however, that the government will still continue to prepare the quarantine facility inside Fort Magsaysay for future use.
He said the OFWs who will be repatriated from Hubei province will land at the Clark airport.
"They will be oriented on quarantine process...The Bureau of Quarantine shall be the one to screen them and those with symptoms will be admitted and considered patients under investigation. Those asymptomatic will be transported to the quarantine facility," he said.
He added that the rooms at the New Clark City are equipped with necessary amenities such as refrigerator and airconditioning units.
"We believe nothing less should be provided to our kababayans," Duque said, adding that the DOH will be in-charge of management coordination and logistics of the entire quarantine process.
He also said the all DOH hospitals will help in the deployment of medical teams to the quarantine area.
"We will be providing the needed medical logistics, including hygiene kits, transportation and other things needed in quarantine process," he said.
The DOH and DFA also revealed that a team from the Philippines is now in Wuhan, China to prepare for the repatriation of the 45 OFWs.
"They're talking to Chinese authorities and the Filipinos to fix the repatriation," said Dulay.
He also said that the DFA is still open for applications from other Filipinos who may also want to be repatriated from China.
"This not a forced repatriation. This is voluntary. Filipinos who would like to join, we can receive applications now, but so far we have not gotten any more than the 45. Any Filipinos who want to come home, they can join," he said.
The DOH also reported that as of 12 p.m. Thursday, there are a total of 178 patients under investigation (PUIs) in the country.
Of the number, 147 have been admitted and isolated, 10 have refused admission, and 16 were discharged but under strict monitoring.
Duque said of the 178, 48 have tested negative for the 2019-nCoV, while
127 results are still pending.
The DOH earlier announced three positive cases of the 2019-nCoV in the country.
The agency urged the public, including the PUIs, to cooperate with authorities.
"Ang cooperation, napakahalaga po nito. At ang DOH ay nagpupursigi para mapigilan ang pagkalat nito (2019-nCoV). Kaya malaki po ang papel na gagampanan ng ating mga asymptomatic PUIs," he said, adding that they are working with the Philippine National Police to compel those who refuse to be admitted to agree to be confined, isolated and tested. (LMY)