PH gov’t to bring home Filipinos from Wuhan, Hubei amid coronavirus threat

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. | Inquirer.net photo

THE Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, January 28, said the Philippine government is ready to bring home Filipinos from the Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus (nCoV).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the Philippine Consulate in Shanghai, China to immediately start processing Filipinos in the Hubei province who wish to be repatriated to the Philippines.

He added that there will be two private charter airlines that will fly from the China province to the Philippines.

Following the Department of Health guidelines, repatriated Filipinos from China will be subjected to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.

Meanwhile, Filipinos who wish to remain in China were advised by the DFA to cooperate and follow local authorities’ advisories amid the nCoV outbreak.

Both the United States and Japan have recently repatriated hundreds of their nationals from Wuhan, where more than 50 million people have been locked down.

Reports from the latest data showed that there have been 132 deaths from nCoV, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases.

PH halts visa issuance to travelers from Hubei province

Dulay also announced that the department has suspended visa issuances to people coming from the Hubei province in China.

“Pursuant to the IATF on (2019 novel coronavirus) resolution, DFA has temporarily suspended the issuance of Philippine visas to travelers from Hubei Province, China, effectively immediately,” he said in a tweet.

The health department’s Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, for its part, has approved the recommendation to “propose temporary restrictions on the issuance of visas for travelers coming from Hubei Province of China.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said all visa issuances to visitors from Wuhan and other areas in China should be suspended.

“Visa upon arrival lang ang suspended para sa mga Chinese. Yung tours, delegates, at businessmen, tulad nung cruise ships sa Subic, tuloy-tuloy pa. Dapat lahat (Only the visa upon arrival was suspended for the Chinese. The visa for tours, delegates, and businessmen like the cruise ships in Subic, are still on-going. It should be all),” he said Wednesday.

“[W]hat is the rule for the thousands of Chinese arrivals? Bakit mga turistang Chinese galing China sakay ng cruise ship as per Bureau of Quarantine at Coast Guard, walang quarantine? Dahil ba may pampadulas ang mga bisita kaya labas-pasok sila? (Why are the tourists from China aboard a cruise ship as per Bureau of Quarantine and Coast Guard, why aren’t they quarantined? Is it because they have the means to bribe which is how they can go in and out?)” he added.

Pangilinan also urged the Department of Health and Malacañang to act fast, and forbid tourists from China to enter the country as long as there is an outbreak.

There have been no confirmed cases of nCoV in the Philippines, according to the DOH.

“Twenty-seven pero three na-discharge na so 24 ang admitted pa (There were 27 PUIs [Persons Under Investigation] but three were discharged so 24 are still admitted),” DOH spokesperson Eric Domingo said Tuesday, January 28. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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