MANILA (UPDATE) - Health authorities are keeping a watchful eye over 135 Chinese tourists who recently arrived in Kalibo, Aklan from Wuhan, China, where a new coronavirus has emerged that has sickened hundreds and killed at least 25 people.
"Right now, they're under the watchful eyes of the Department of Health. So far, there's no indication that any of the passengers are infected with any kind of virus or are exhibiting any fever or symptoms," Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla told ANC's "Rundown."
The passengers, who are on a group tour, arrived in Aklan before the Philippines announced it was halting flights to and from the central Chinese city where a still unknown strain of the coronavirus first appeared last year.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses from animals ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as MERS-CoV and SARS.
[LINK: Philippine aviation authorities ban flights to Wuhan https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/01/23/20/philippine-aviation-authorities-ban-flights-to-wuhan]
They will return to Wuhan on Monday, Jan. 27, after their trip ends, Arcilla said.
"They're [DOH] keeping track of them, keeping track of their whereabouts, making sure they are able to detect if they have any symptoms," he added.
Philippine carriers Royal Air Charter and Pan Pacific Airline will launch flights to take the tourists back to Wuhan, said Wyrlou Samodio, chief of the Civil Aeronautics Board's legal division.
"Kailangan po nilang bumalik dahil sila po ay turista lang dito," he told radio DZMM.
(They have to go back because they are just tourists here.)
Wuhan has been placed on lockdown to prevent residents from getting out.
Health officials earlier cleared from the illness 3 Chinese tourists with influenza-like symptoms who arrived in Kalibo. A flight attendant also placed herself in "self-quarantine" after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.
A child from Nanjing, China who arrived in Aklan with fever, meanwhile, is under observation, according to the provincial health officer.
The new coronavirus has been reported in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong Macau and Taiwan and has reached Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the US.
The Philippines has reported a suspected case of the new virus after a 5-year-old from Wuhan arrived in Cebu City and tested positive for a non-specific coronavirus.
Specimen from the patient was sent to specialists in Australia to identify which coronavirus strain he carried. Results are expected to be released on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told ABS-CBN News.