Feb 10, 2020

Thirty Filipinos (29 adults and an infant) who were stranded in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, are now back in the country. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Jan. 28 that the government was willing to provide help to Filipinos stranded in Hubei province, after learning that approximately 300 OFWs were there, with 150 of them staying in Wuhan. “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 government agency said in a statement.

The first batch of OFWs came home early Sunday morning, Feb. 9. Two representatives from the Philippine Consulate in Shanghai, three from the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, and five medical personnel flew to Wuhan to fetch the Filipinos and screen them, with only the asymptomatic passengers allowed to fly. Once back in the country, the passengers were screened once again by the Bureau of Quarantine. The repatriated Filipinos were then sent to their quarantine area: the athlete’s village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac previously used during the 30th SEA Games. (It should be noted that Capas mayor Reynaldo Catacutan reported that the local government was not consulted about this.)

“During the quarantine period, one room will be allotted per person. The room can also accommodate a family of three. Their movement, however, will be limited to the building only. Packed lunch will be served and prepared for them every day within the facility,” writes an Inquirer.net report.

The flight crew and the DFA and medical team will also be put under lockdown.

Initially, more than 50 OFWs had asked help from the DFA. However, “15 were unable to leave because of documentation problems,” with others also backing out “because they did not want to lose their jobs in China,” reported Inquirer.net.

Noting the concerns of Capas citizens over the possible health risk of housing a quarantine, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority assured that “all preventive and precautionary measures are being put in place by the task force not only for our repatriated kababayans but to also ensure that the adjacent communities of New Clark City and all Capaseños are kept safe and protected.”


Featured photo courtesy of the Department of Foreign Affairs

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