MANILA (UPDATE) -- Up to a third of the estimated 150 Filipinos in Wuhan have expressed desire to be repatriated from the Chinese city that is at the center of a novel coronavirus outbreak, the head of the Senate health committee said Monday.
The Philippines is ready to fetch the Filipinos from Wuhan by air, said Sen. Bong Go, also a former special assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Ako, gusto ko rin makauwi na sila dito, as long as talagang negative, talagang malinis at hindi affected ng virus. Pero nag-aantay tayo ng decision ng China," he said.
(I also want them to come home as long as they are not affected by the virus. But we are awaiting China's decision.)
Go said the desire of some 30 to 50 Filipinos to be repatriated from Wuhan was discussed at a meeting of health and foreign affairs officials earlier Monday, which he attended.
China placed Wuhan on lockdown and a transport shutdown left millions stranded. At least 80 people have so far died due to the novel coronavirus and some 2,000 were reported infected.
The Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai earlier said it was in contact with 150 Filipinos in Wuhan to ensure that those, "especially tourists or on short-time visits," will receive adequate aid during the lockdown.
At least 2 senators have filed resolutions urging the chamber to investigate the Philippines' preparedness against the new coronavirus strain, but Go said that he was not keen on scheduling the hearing anytime soon.
"It’s better to be vigilant at maging cautious tayo sa lahat, pero wag natin takutin ang ating mga kababayan. Mahirap mag-panic. Mapa-paralyze ang ating pamumuhay," he said.
(It's better to be vigilant and cautious. Let's not scare our countrymen. It's hard to sow panic because it could paralyze our daily lives.)
As of Monday, the Department of Health is monitoring 11 individuals in the Philippines who may be potential carriers of the respiratory virus.
Four others, including a 5-year-old boy in Cebu City, have tested negative for the pathogen.