MANILA — The public should show "bayanihan" instead of withholding support for the repatriation of nearly 50 Filipinos from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of a global coronavirus epicenter, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.
The group will be quarantined for 14 days at the Athletes Village in New Clark City, Tarlac, instead of a mega drug rehab facility in Nueva Ecija province as initially planned, authorities said.
Some communities had opposed holding the quarantine in their areas, fearing that they would catch the novel noronavirus that has killed at least 630, mostly in China, said Duque.
"Sinong mangangalaga sa kapwa natin Pilipino kundi Pilipino rin?" he said in a DZMM interview. "Sayang iyong spirit of bayanihan... Papayag ba tayo na mawala ito? Pakita tayo ng patriotism naman."
(Who else will take care of our fellow Filipinos but their compatriots? The spirit of bayanihan is going to waste. Will we allow it to disappear? Let's show a little patriotism.)
The repatriated Filipinos will have their own rooms, restrooms and disinfecting kits at the Athletes Village, which will be locked during the quarantine, said Duque.
The disease is not airborne and instead spreads through respiratory droplets within 10 feet of a patient, he noted.
"Walang problema sa pangamba na baka malagay sa alanganin ang mga komunidad," he said.
(There is no problem over concerns that nearby communities might be put in jeopardy.)
China confirmed up to 630 deaths due to the virus, first detected in Wuhan in the central province of Hubei. The Philippines confirmed 3 cases, including 1 death, all from Wuhan. Manila also banned all inbound travel from China, Macau and Hong Kong.
The Philippines is monitoring 178 people for possible coronavirus infection, including 147 who were admitted in hospitals. Ten others refused to be confined and would be brought to hospitals by policemen on Friday, said Duque.
"Hindi puwedeng iyong mananaig iyong kanilang kagustuhan (their personal preference cannot prevail)," he said.