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Filipinos from Wuhan free of nCoV symptoms

A MEDICAL officer in protective suit closely monitors the Filipino repatriates from Wuhan, China, during  their flight back to the Philippines.  (DFA photo)

A MEDICAL officer in protective suit closely monitors the Filipino repatriates from Wuhan, China, during their flight back to the Philippines. (DFA photo)

By ROY MABASA * AARON RECUENCO * ANALOU DE VERA

The 32 Filipinos repatriated from China’s Hubei province, the center of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (nCoV-ARD) outbreak, did not exhibit any flu-like symptoms when they arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, the Department of Health (DoH) said.

“All 32 repatriates landed safely and free of any signs and symptoms, hence, they were all sent to the New Clark City for close observation and monitoring for 14 days,” the DoH said in a statement.

The DoH said that the repatriates had undergone three levels of screening.

The agency said that before they boarded the plane, the repatriates were screened to determine if they are symptomatic (has fever, cough, and colds) or asymptomatic (does not have any signs or symptoms).

During the flight, the repatriates were closely monitored for the occurrence of any signs and symptoms. Upon landing, they were again assessed if they developed signs and symptoms.

The DoH assured that the repatriates are well-accommodated and closely monitored, and all basic necessities were provided, including hygiene kits and meals.

The quarantine procedure is in coordination with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the provincial government of Tarlac, the DoH said.

The DoH assured that the repatriates will be regularly monitored by medical personnel “to ensure their health and safety.”

“If an individual, during his/her stay in the quarantine facility, suddenly shows signs and symptoms, the DoH had deployed medical teams to immediately assess and facilitate transfer to hospital for close monitoring,” the Health department said.

“The DoH will be taking charge of the management, coordination, and logistics of the entire quarantine process. Rest assured that repatriated OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will be attended to and treated with utmost care,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Code Blue Alert, which requires half of all hospital personnel to report for duty in order to provide medical assistance and services, has been raised in all hospitals under the DoH-Central Luzon Center for Health Development.

‘CITY’ SECURED

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has deployed several policemen near the New Clark City in Tarlac amid threat of protest actions of local residents for turning the area into a quarantine site for repatriated Filipinos from Hubei.

PNP chief Police Gen. Archie Gamboa also appealed for understanding on the government’s decision, saying this is the time that every Filipino should help each other to defeat the nCoV.

“Remember that those who would be quarantined are also Filipinos. Efforts have been made by fellow Filipinos from the government, despite the risks, to rescue them in China and bring them back home,” said Gamboa.

“They are also Filipinos, and right now, they need proper medical monitoring and assistance from the government for their safety, the safety of their family, and the safety of the Filipino people in our country,” he added.

Gamboa said the local policemen who were deployed were instructed to observe maximum tolerance and help, if possible, in explaining the safety measures that will be implemented by the government for the repatriated Filipinos.

“The Philippine National Police joins the Department of Health in assuring the people Tarlac that proper measures will be implemented in New Clark City for the protection of the local residents, and for the protection of the country,” said Gamboa.

HOW THEY ARRIVED

The chartered plane, which carried the repatriates including an infant from China, landed at around 7 a.m. at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase.

They were accompanied by a 10-member team from the Philippines which included two members from the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai, China, three members from the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA), and five medical team members from the Department of Health (DoH).

Upon arrival, the repatriates were safely and swiftly transferred from the plane into their dedicated buses and brought to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Capas which will be their home for the 14-day quarantine period.

On January 28, the DFA made an initial call for the repatriation of Filipinos through the facilitation of the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai which has jurisdiction over Wuhan city in Hubei province.

The Philippine Embassy in Beijing and the consulate liaised with Chinese authorities to facilitate the operation.

The DFA disclosed that two of its representatives from the Consulate General in Shanghai had to hurdle several border provinces’ clearances along their arduous two-day land travel to Wuhan City to be able to coordinate with the Filipino community and the Foreign Affairs Office in Hubei province.

RESIDENTS CONCERNED

Local officials and residents of the area where the New Clark City is situated have earlier voiced out concerns on local public health for the government’s decision to use the Athletes’ Village as a quarantine site.

“They really have nothing to worry about because all protective measures are in place,” said Gamboa.

Capas acting Mayor Roseller Rodriguez admitted that they were left with no choice but to accede to the order of the national government’ despite strong opposition for the use of the New Clark City as quarantine area for the returning Filipinos from Wuhan.

In a DZMM livestream, Rodriguez hopes that the national government will grant the city government’s request for certain conditions for the use of the facility.

First and foremost, Rodriguez said, the local government wants that only the first batch of the returning Filipino expats will be accommodated in the facility.

Rodriguez also hoped that the concerned party’s stay is “temporary’’ and should not exceed the 14-day incubation period.

The local government also requested that health teams be stationed from the Athletes’ Village up to the outposts of the affected barangays to assure the public of complete medical attention if necessary.

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