163 Filipinos repatriated from Macau arrive in Manila

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The first batch of Filipinos who were repatriated from Macau arrived in Manila late Saturday afternoon, March 7.

A total of 163 "stranded and distressed" Filipinos arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 via a chartered Air Macau flight that landed  at around 4:30 pm on Saturday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier announced that 167 Filipinos were due to arrive, but the total number was 163, composed of 130 adults, 5 children, and, 28 Overseas Workers Welfare Administration members.

Upon arrival at the airport, the repatriates were given a health briefing to guide them on their 14-day self-quarantine. Some of the pointers include wearing a mask when talking to others, disposing of the used mask properly after 8 hours of use, and alerting barangay health workers if they experience any flu symptoms such as cold, cough, and fever.

They also received financial assistance from the government.

The Macau repatriates were among the first batch repatriated from the area amid the continued global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus. The Philippine government had been coordinating with the Macau government for their return after travel restrictions resulted in lack of direct flights back to Manila.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said repatriated Filipinos will not be brought to the New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac, for quarantine upon landing since they will be subject to home-based quarantine and considered persons-under-monitoring.

The DFA gave assurances that all Filipinos coming from Macau were asymptomatic.

Despite this, the DFA said that if some displayed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, "they will be immediately brought to a medical facility for further investigation and treatment if necessary."

Filipinos repatriated from Macau will comprise the 3rd batch of Filipinos returning to the country as COVID-19 cases of continued to increase worldwide.

The DFA, along with officials from the Department of Health, repatriated on Februrary 9, 30 Filipinos from from China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. On February 25, a total of 445 Filipinos also returned home from the coronavirus-hit  M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship from Japan.

The Philippines has recorded 5 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including the first death outside of China. Of the remaining 4, two have since recovered and left the country, while the other were being treated. One was in "very critical condition" as of early Saturday morning.

Worldwide, the COVID-19 death toll stood at over 3,400 as of Saturday, while over 101,000 people were infected across 84 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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