Residents of Tarlac town anxious due to New Clark City quarantine plan

Gracie Rutao, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2020 04:03 AM | Updated as of Feb 08 2020 05:05 AM

Some residents of Capas town, Tarlac are anxious after the Department of Health (DOH) announced its plan to bring to nearby New Clark City the Filipinos who will be repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the deadly new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak started.

Residents are urging President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene in DOH's plan to bring the OFWs from Wuhan to quarantine facilities of Athletes Village in New Clark City.

“Kababayan natin 'yan, kailangan natin tulungan 'yan. Pero 'yung case na 'yan, medyo delikado. Lalo na crowded itong lugar namin dito. Lahat dito tutol na," Jeremias Hernandez, a Capas resident, told ABS-CBN News.

“Sana po sa mahal na Pangulo, dapat dalhin niya sa isang isla, hindi po pwede dito sa bayan namin. Para sa athlete yan hindi naman po para sa may sakit,” said Vic Santos, another resident.

Capas officials also showed their doubts and anxiety over DOH's planned use of New Clark City, a planned community.

“It was not designed as a quarantine station. In this kind of public health emergency situation, the New Clark City is within the territory of Capas. Sana po ang hinihiling lang namin, pakinggan ang mga sentimyento ng mga mamayan ng Capas,” Joseller Boots Rodriguez, the town's vice mayor, said Friday.

The town officials have adopted a resolution opposing the health department's plan.

Health officials, however, called on the town to be calm since they "do not need to fear" possible infection from Filipinos to be repatriated.

"Unless they come near the patients, they do not need to fear this disease. They will not be in contact with the (repatriated) people," said Anita Marcelo of DOH-Tarlac.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) meanwhile said New Clark City can be used for calamities and emergency health situations such as the new coronavirus outbreak, which have killed more than 600 people in China and infected more than 27,000 others.

"We would like to assure the municipality of Capas and its officials that the national government will address all the issues and concerns raised following the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to use New Clark City as a quarantine site for our repatriated kababayans," BCDA said in a statement.

At least 50 Filipinos in Hubei -- where Wuhan is -- were initially scheduled to arrive in the Philippines on Saturday but DOH said earlier Thursday it wanted to push back the repatriation, as authorities then were thinking to use a not-yet-ready 10,000-bed facility in Nueva Ecija as quarantine.