Region 3 hospitals on ‘code blue’ as Filipino repatriates quarantined at New Clark City

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2020 04:52 PM

Filipino workers at Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China, wait for their flight back home. Courtesy of DFA

MANILA — All hospitals in Region III were told to be on alert for "unlikely" but possible cases of the novel coronavirus, as 49 people from Hubei, China remain on quarantine in New Clark City in Tarlac, the Department of Health.

“The DOH has also declared code blue in all government hospitals, health offices, and other health facilities in the region for swift medical response,” Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told reporters on Monday.

“Those who will develop symptoms, such as fever, cough and colds, and other respiratory symptoms, will be immediately brought to a designated hospital for isolation and proper clinical management," he added.

A code blue level meant that “half of the work force are on duty at any given time and we are ready to mobilize more if needed,” said Domingo.

He also said that health workers have been deployed to communities around the New Clark City to allay public fears that the repatriates on quarantine were carriers of the fast-spreading virus.

The 49 people staying at the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City include 30 overseas Filipino workers who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, the birthplace of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), which has left more than 900 people dead.

The others who are being quarantined are two Department of Foreign Affairs personnel who served as advance party for the repatriation, eight members of the Philippine repatriation team, six plane crew members, and three ground crew operators.

After arriving at the Clark Airbase in Pampanga on Sunday, the group was transferred to the New Clark City facility for a 14-day quarantine procedure.

Domingo said none of the repatriated Filipinos had respiratory symptoms or fever. They are now all considered Persons Under Monitoring (PUM).

“Daily monitoring is scheduled every 9:00 am and 4:00 pm to check for any significant changes in their health status,” he said.

Domingo said there is no risk for the surrounding communities in Capas, especially since they are “very very far” from New Clark City. He said this after the mayor of Capas opposed the decision to turn Athlete’s Village into a quarantine facility.

“The secretary has made an effort to reach out to local government unit and to reassure them,” he said. “We will make sure there is no risk to the population of Capas and Tarlac as a whole.”

Domingo said there are still no plans to repatriate more Filipinos from China.

He explained that only 30 decided to join the first batch because the other Filipinos in Wuhan stayed behind to be with their families.

“Some of them naman have families already in China na hindi Filipino citizens,” Domingo said, explaining that only Filipino citizens are allowed into the Philippines from China.