MANILA- The Philippine government will repatriate 148 of its people from Macau, Malacañang said Tuesday following reports that some Filipinos were forced to go on leave from their jobs in light of the global coronavirus epidemic.
The Filipinos will be flown back to the country via a chartered flight arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Forty-eight others meanwhile will be repatriated by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Macau, a special administrative region of China, hosts an estimated 35,000 Filipinos as of January this year, according to the Philippine foreign ministry.
In January, the Philippines banned travel to and from the top gambling destination as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the virus. Manila also banned travel to and from China and its administrative region Hong Kong.
But the travel restriction on Macau and Hong Kong was eventually lifted for Filipinos who hold working, student, and permanent resident visas.
Globally, the virus has killed more than 3,100 people and infected over 90,000 even as a clear shift in the crisis emerges, with nine times as many cases recorded outside China as inside, according to the World Health Organization.
South Korea has the most infections outside China, with more than 4,000 cases and 26 deaths.
-with a report from Agence France-Presse