The Philippine government on Tuesday night (January 28) announced that it has put on standby two charter planes so Filipinos in Hubei Province — the source of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)—can be repatriated immediately should they wish to come home.
This was upon the instruction of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., according to DFA Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido J. Dulay.
In a tweet at 9:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Dulay said :
This action followed a meeting between the DFA and the Department of Health (DOH) on what actions the government needs to take to safeguard Filipinos from the spread of the deadly 2019-nCoV, which originated in Wuhan, a city in the Chinese province of Hubei.
Around 150 Filipinos are currently in Wuhan, according to Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana. These Filipinos are now in distress as they are already running out of water and food supplies due to the lockdown implemented by the Chinese government in the area.
Should they decide to come home, Dulay said they will be immediately placed under quarantine, per the agreement between the DOH and DFA.
Reports said the 2019-nCoV has already claimed the lives of more than 100 people. The new strain of coronavirus has also reached several countries, including the US, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan.
The DOH said while 24 individuals are now being tested for possible 2019-nCoV infection in the Philippines, the country is still officially free from the disease as of now.
As another measure to protect the country from the new coronavirus, the Bureau of Immigration has already suspended the no-visa entry for Chinese nationals.
Several Chinese schools in Manila have also suspended classes to make sure those who travelled to China in celebration of the Chinese New Year will not mingle with other students.