MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Thirty Filipinos from the Chinese city of Wuhan arrived Sunday morning in the Philippines, marking the country's first evacuation of its nationals from the epicenter of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 800 people and infected over 37,000 others, mainly in China.
The repatriation of 29 Filipino adults and one infant replicates efforts of such other countries as the United States, Japan, and Singapore in bringing home their respective nationals amid the growing global concerns over the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease.
The chartered Royal Air flight carrying the 30 repatriates and the 10-member government repatriation team landed around 7 a.m. at the Haribon hangar of the Philippine Air Force in Clark, Pampanga province, north of Manila.
"Upon their arrival, the Filipinos were safely and swiftly transferred from the plane into their dedicated buses, and brought to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City in Tarlac, which will be their home for the 14-day quarantine period," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
There were some 150 Filipinos in Wuhan at the time of the start of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, according to the DFA.
The repatriated Filipinos showed no signs and symptoms of the new coronavirus, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said.
But they will be under close monitoring and will be individually checked twice a day to monitor for possible developing signs and symptoms of the virus.
In the event that any of the repatriates will show signs and symptoms of the virus, they will be transferred to a government hospital.
A mental health team will also assess them on the third day of quarantine. According to Dr. Monserrat Chichioco, chief of the Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga, they will undergo scheduled psychosocial activities and daily exercise.
Bayugo described the repatriates, who were assigned individual rooms at the Athletes' Village, as being very cooperative and arrived in a happy mood.
They will be provided with food, hygiene kits, other necessities, and will be given access to cellphones and wifi.
A caterer and dietitian will be assigned weekly, crafting healthy meals in accordance with each of the repatriates’ health profiles.
The Philippines has so far monitored 267 patients suspected of carrying the new strain of virus, of whom 230 were admitted to hospitals and 19 were discharged. Three, all Chinese nationals, were confirmed to have acquired the virus.
The country recorded the first fatality outside of China with the death of a 44-year-old patient on Feb. 1.
-- With reports from Bianca Dava and Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News