DOH seeks delay in homecoming of Pinoys from China virus epicenter


Posted at Feb 06 2020 07:45 AM | Updated as of Feb 06 2020 08:10 AM

DOH seeks delay in homecoming of Pinoys from China virus epicenter 1
Passengers wait at the departure area while wearing protective masks, following confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in Manila, Feb. 5, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

MANILA — The Department of Health said Tuesday it wants to push back this weekend's repatriation of nearly 50 Filipinos from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a global coronavirus outbreak. 

Authorities are still fixing the water connection of a mega drug rehab center in Nueva Ecija that will be used to quarantine about 40 to 48 Filipinos from Wuhan. The 10,000-bed facility also needs additional linen, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque. 

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"Nakiusap kami na ma-delay ng 2 days para sigurado tayo na hanggang makakaya, 100 percent ready," he said of the Filipinos' return, initially scheduled on Saturday. 

(We requested that their return be delayed for 2 days so we could be sure that we're 100 percent ready.) 

The building that will be used for the quarantine is separate from the main compound, where some 840 drug users are being rehabilitated, he told radio DZMM. 

Duque said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered him to inspect the facility on Wednesday, which made the Cabinet official miss a House hearing into the government's response against the novel coronavirus.

The pathogen has killed at least 560 and infected some 27,300, mostly in China, its health officials said Thursday. 

Authorities over the weekend said a Chinese coronavirus patient from Wuhan died in Manila. His female companion, who also tested positive for the disease, remains under observation. 
A third patient returned to China before local test results confirmed that she was positive for the virus. 

Authorities are tracing people who came in close contact with the patients, and are monitoring 133 others for possible coronavirus infection, said Duque.