MANILA — The government is checking reports that a Filipina supposedly tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Hong Kong, an official said Wednesday after authorities lifted a travel ban on the Chinese territory.
Authorities failed to get information on the patient's identity from the hospital where she was reportedly confined, said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac.
"We are still in the process of confirming," he told radio DZMM.
The Philippines on Tuesday said it would allow migrant workers to return to their jobs in Hong Kong and Macau, once they made a written declaration that they knew the risks of going there.
Malacañang announced the decision before Hong Kong reported that a domestic helper became its 61st case of the novel coronavirus dubbed COVID-19.
There was no immediate comment from Philippine officials on how the latest development in Hong Kong would affect its decision to relax the travel restriction.
In 2019, Filipino workers in Hong Kong sent home about P4.1 billion in foreign exchange remittances, central bank data showed.
The Philippine government also said it would repatriate Filipino crew and passengers from a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.
The ship Diamond Princess, carrying some 3,700 passengers and crew, has been quarantined in Yokohama since Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it traveled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.
Thirty-five of the 538 Filipinos on board had tested positive for the coronavirus, including the eight new cases, who are all crew members, the Philippine foreign ministry said.
In the Philippines, there have been 3 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 1 death. With a report from Reuters