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Filipino repatriates from Wuhan going home after showing no COVID-19 symptoms

MANILA, Philippines – The first batch of 49 Filipinos quarantined in New Clark City will now be allowed to go home after showing no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 

In a press conference on Friday, February 21, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they will be holding a send-off ceremony for the 49 Filipinos on Saturday, February 22, the last day of their 14-day mandatory quarantine.

New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac was designated as the country's quarantine facility to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The site was first used in December last year as the Athlete's Village of the Southeast Asian Games.

“On February 22, DOH is set to conduct a send-off ceremony for the 30 repatriates and 19 crew members [and members of the repatriation team] at the New Clark City quarantine facility, which marks their completion of the required 14-day quarantine,” Vergeire said.

“All the quarantined individuals have not shown signs and symptoms of fever, cough or sore throat during their 14-day stay. They will now be allowed to go back to their respective homes and places,” the DOH official added.  

Of the 49 repatriates, 30 are overseas Filipino workers who were based in the province of Hubei in China, where COVID-19 – the disease caused by 2019-nCoV – has killed 2,235 people and infected a total of 75,466 as of 3:45 pm on Friday.  

The rest of the Filipinos quarantined in New Clark City include government personnel who were part of the repatriation team, 6 flight crew members, and 3 ground crew operators. (READ: DOLE to assist OFWs repatriated due to novel coronavirus crisis)

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Inter-agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies. We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” Vergeire said.

This now means New Clark City will have been completely vacated and ready for occupancy by the time the 460 to 480 Filipinos who were quarantined for days inside the Japanese cruise ship M/V Diamond Princess will fly back to the Philippines on Sunday, February 23.

Vergeire’s updated figure on the second batch of repatriates from Diamond Princess is about 20 to 40 people fewer than Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s earlier estimate of “around 500.” 

At least 44 Filipino passengers and crew members of Diamond Princess have tested positive for COVID-19, though one case has already recovered from the disease and is the first Filipino to do so.  

Vergeire said the 43 Filipinos who are still COVID-19-positive will not be allowed to go back to the Philippines. 

As of Friday, the DOH has probed 597 patients in the Philippines for possible COVID-19 infection. Of this number, 139 patients are still admitted in various health facilities nationwide, while 455 have already been discharged.  

The Philippines has so far recorded 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One of them died, but the other two recovered and have since been discharged from the hospital. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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