Repatriates from Macau to be quarantined at home upon return to PH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2020 03:17 PM

Security guards stand outside the closed Grand Lisboa casino, following the coronavirus outbreak in Macau, China Feb. 4, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said Filipinos who will be repatriated from Macau because of the COVID-19 outbreak in China will be quarantined at home instead of the New Clark City in Tarlac.

“Our repatriates from Macau will be treated as PUMs—persons under monitoring,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a press conference.

He said the Bureau of Quarantine has already coordinated with local government units “so they can ensure that the repatriates undergo daily monitoring for fever, coughs and colds and other symptoms of respiratory illness.”

He said this in response to whether or not Macau should be considered a high-risk area for COVID-19. According to media reports, there are only around 10 cases of the new strain of coronavirus in Macau, a special administrative region of China.

Of the more than 90,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 80,000 are in China.

Initially, the Philippines imposed a travel ban on China, together with Hong Kong and Macau. But it allowed migrant workers to return to their jobs in Hong Kong and Macau following requests from groups of overseas Filipino workers.

But many of the workers in Macau were forced to go on forced leaves as a precautionary move to combat the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the Philippine task force on the new strain of coronavirus announced that it will repatriate 148 Filipino workers from Macau within the week. Another batch of 48 workers will also be repatriated by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Duque said they have already sat down with the LGUs concerned to explain the importance of their monitoring. “That includes their leveling up and preparedness at different level or response should there be community transmission.”

There has been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, all Chinese nationals. One died and the other two recovered. There has been no reports of local transmission within the country. Eighty Filipinos abroad have tested positive for the disease.

Only those who do not show symptoms of respiratory illness will be allowed to return to the Philippines from Macau.