DFA: Number of Pinoys to be repatriated from Wuhan lower than expected

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2020 09:07 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2020 09:38 PM

Filipino workers at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China, on Saturday wait for a Philippine government aircraft that will fly them back to the country. Courtesy of DFA

CLARK, Pampanga—The Philippines’ repatriation team composed of personnel from the departments of Health (DOH) and Foreign Affairs (DFA) is set to leave for virus-hit Hubei province, China at 10:15 p.m. on Saturday.

The team will be flying to the center of the new coronavirus (2019 nCoV) outbreak to repatriate some 36 Filipino migrant workers from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.

That number is lower compared to the 56 initially given by the DFA since other OFWs backed out at the last minute due to undisclosed reasons, according to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola.

"The numbers can still change, kasi sa [passenger] manifest 40 plus. We'll see, we'll give you an update once they have boarded the plane," Arriola told reporters in a press briefing.

As of 8:30 pm Saturday, 26 OFWs were at Tianhe International Airport, awaiting the chartered aircraft from Clark International Airport. Arriola said the team is expected to arrive in China at about 1:15 a.m., Sunday.

The team will allot 45 minutes to an hour for the screening and repatriation of OFWs before they return to Clark at about 5 a.m. on Sunday.

OFWs, as well as the repatriation team and six crew members of the plane, will again undergo screening with the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival at Clark.

Those who will show symptoms of the 2019-nCoV will immediately be brought to designated hospitals in San Fernando town, Pampanga.

Asymptomatic individuals, or those who don't have symptoms of the virus, will be transported to New Clark City in Tarlac to start their 14-day mandatory quarantine in the community's Athletes' Village.

As of Saturday, more than 700 people died due to 2019-nCoV while over 34,000 others were confirmed infected with the virus, said Chinese authorities.