MANILA — As long as there are health precautions in place, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was amenable to repatriating Filipino workers in Wuhan and the rest of Hubei Province amid the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
Duterte made this remark after health experts advised against the repatriation of Filipinos as it would increase their exposure to the deadly virus.
“We are always conscious of our citizens…their health and if they are going home, we are ready to ferry them back to the Philippines but all precautions must be in place,” Duterte said in a media interview in Quezon City on Wednesday.
“Maybe spraying of the entire plane from the landing gear up to the rooftop or whatever…I leave it to the proper authorities to do that,” he added.
He said he “pitied” Filipino workers who begged the government to repatriate them for fears of their lives so it was natural to help them.
“We’ll just have to go there and rescue them but all precautions must be in place so as not to allow another contamination here,” he reiterated.
As an added precaution, the President said returning Filipino workers should also be quarantined.
It is not clear how Filipino workers will be allowed to return home since Wuhan is currently on lockdown.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has expressed readiness to bring home Filipino workers “subject to China’s rules on Disease Containment, including immigration clearance and quarantine process, among others.”
To date, the DFA has made available special flights from central China’s province of Hubei to the Philippines.
Filipino repatriates will be subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine based on the guidelines of the Department of Health.
Meanwhile, Filipinos who wish to stay in China should heed advisories from local health authorities, and cooperate with efforts to quell the further spread of nCoV.
Filipinos in the affected areas needing medical assistance and treatment were urged to go to the nearest medical facility and seek proper medical care, including treatment and quarantine.
The nCoV, which is believed to have an incubation period of two to 14 days, originated in Wuhan.
Cases have also been reported in Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, France, Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia
In the Philippines, there are currently 27 foreigners “under investigation” for suspected nCoV, according to health authorities. (PNA)