PH eyes repatriation of Filipinos in Macau amid coronavirus scare

The Philippine government is eyeing the repatriation of Filipinos in Macau, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Friday, February 28.

Vergeire said in a news briefing that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) met to discuss the plan and were reaching out to the Macau government for the repatriation process.

The IATF is also discussing logistical matters, such as what kind of carrier the repatriates would be brought in, if they would travel by air or sea.

Vergeire said that the final decision may be reached after the IATF meeting this weekend.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, an ex-officio member of the IATF, said in a news brieing earlier this week that at least 200 Filipinos in Macau have signified their desire to be repatriated.

Unlike the repatriates from Wuhan, China; and the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, the DOH said that repatriates from Macau and other countries would not be brought to the New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac, for quarantine.

Vergeire said that the Diamond Princess repatriates had a "special situation," because the transmission dynamics are unique on the ship. Since it is a contained place, it is difficult to determine the circumstances of the people on board, so the Philippine government quarantined them in New Clark City where they could be closely monitored.

Since the possible repatriates from Macau were not subject to the same situation, the DOH would only consider them as persons-under-monitoring, subject to home-based quarantine. Vergeire noted that they would be strictly monitored.

The first batch of 49 Filipino repatriates from Hubei province were quarantined in NCC and discharged on February 21.

Four days later, 445 repatriates from the Diamond Princess were brought to NCC. The DOH reported that a total of 5 exhibited symptoms, although two had already tested negative for COVID-19. Three were still awaiting results. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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