MANILA- Filipinos in China who wish to return to the Philippines may be repatriated within the week, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Monday as the 2019 novel coronavirus spreads to more areas.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said 42 Filipinos in the Chinese province of Hubei, where the virus originated, have expressed their desire to go home.
"The expected goal is to be able to fetch them within the week," Abella told reporters.
Filipinos in China who wish to be repatriated must contact the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai on Monday, Abella said. Those who will be repatriated will have to undergo mandatory quarantine.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week said Filipinos in China can be repatriated as long as there are precautionary measures in place.
“We are always conscious of our citizens there. If they are going home, we are ready to ferry them back to the Philippines but all precautions must be in place,” Duterte said.
“Naawa naman ako. Puwede natin tulungan,” he added.
(I pity them. We can help)
China has implemented a lockdown in Wuhan City in Hubei and nearby areas to contain the spread of the virus that has killed hundreds and infected several thousand others.
No Filipinos in China have been confirmed to be infected with the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, Abella said.
Filipinos who need assistance in relation to the coronavirus outbreak may contact the 24/7 WeChat hotline of the DFA.
There are 295, 047 Filipinos in mainland China, according to government data. Around 150 are in Wuhan City.