MANILA — Following the imposition of travel restrictions on South Korea, the Philippine government is considering the repatriation of its nationals from Macau, another area affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, an official said Wednesday.
“Yes. Tomorrow, we will discuss that,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said when asked about the matter at a press conference at the Department of Health (DOH).
Nograles said the inter-agency task force on the new coronavirus, which will meet on Thursday, is aware there are Filipinos working in Macau, one of China's special administrative regions, who want to return to the Philippines.
As of Wednesday, more than 80,000 people have already been infected by the COVID-19 while more than 2,700 have died.
At least 210 Filipinos reportedly want to return to the Philippines after the government successfully repatriated 30 citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease, and as it starts the 14-day quarantine for over 400 Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
“We really don’t know the final number,” Nograles said of the Filipinos to be repatriated from Macau. “Maybe, tomorrow we’ll get a clearer assessment of the number of our citizens who want to be repatriated to the Philippines.”
The Philippine government earlier lifted the travel ban for Filipino overseas workers, students, and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau.
Nograles reiterated that the temporary travel restriction on South Korea might still change based on their close monitoring of the situation.