DFA to repatriate 148 Filipinos from Macau amid coronavirus outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday, March 3, announced it will repatriate 148 Filipinos from Macau amid the continued global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said it will repatriate 48 of its active members from the area. The repatriated Filipinos will return to the Philippines via a chartered flight, while OWWA members will arrive via one commercial flight.

No date had been set for the arrival of the Filpinos from Macau.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases said it approved the DFA and OWWA's repatriation plans during a meeting held on Tuesday afternoon. The IATF assured the public that returning Filipinos would undergo the required screening and quarantine measures being implemented by the Philippine government.

As of Tuesday, Macau has recorded 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus. 

Filipinos repatriated from Macau will comprise the 3rd batch of Filipinos returning to the country as cases of coronavirus continues to increase worldwide.

The DFA, along with officials from the Department of Health, earlier repatriated on Feburary 9, 30 Filipinos from from China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of deadly novel coronavirus' outbreak. On February 25, a total of 445 Filipinos also returned home from the coronavirus-hit Japanese cruise ship M/V Diamond Princess.

All repatriates were placed under quarantine in the New Clark City Center in Capas, Tarlac – the Philippines' national quarantine facility for the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Philippines earlier recorded 3 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all Chinese tourists, including the first death outside China. The other two already recovered and have returned to China.

As of 12:10 am on Tuesday, the worldwide death toll due to the coronavirus stood at 3,048, while over 89,000 cases were recorded across 68 countries. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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