MANILA — The government will take another week to study the repatriation of Filipinos stranded in China due to a travel ban that seeks to contain a coronavirus outbreak, the health department said Tuesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte's cabinet decided last Feb. 4 to wait for a total of 2 weeks to study the situation in China, where the novel coronavirus had killed about 1,000 people, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
"Kung maayos naman at hindi naman na grabe o may indikasyon na hindi kumakalat, puwede nang desisyunan na hayaan sila (mga stranded na Pilipino) na makaalis. May isang linggo pa," he told DZMM.
(If the situation is alright and there is an indication that the disease is not spreading, we can decide to let them leave. There is one more week to go.)
"Gusto man natin silang hayaan [na makauwi], ang problema 'pag may nagkasakit o namatay e kargo de konsensya natin dito," he added.
(Even if we want to allow them to return home, the problem is if people here get infected or die, that will be on our conscience.)
The government last weekend brought home some 32 Filipinos from Wuhan City in central China, where the new coronavirus was first detected.
All the repatriated Filipinos did not develop any symptoms of the disease so far, said Duque.
Some Filipino tourists, however, were still reportedly stranded in the special Chinese administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The Philippines has confirmed 3 novel coronavirus cases, including 1 death, all from Wuhan.
Authorities are monitoring some 261 patients locally, said Duque.
"Nananatili pa rin tayong walang local transmission, bagkus lahat [ng kaso] imported. Pero hindi naman puwedeng maging pabaya tayo," he said.
(We still have no local transmission of the disease; instead, all cases were imported. However, we cannot be negligent.)
There is "no evidence" that the pathogen is airborne, and instead likely spreads through respiratory droplets within 3 to 6 feet of a patient, Duque reminded the public.