Manila - The Philippines will proceed with its plan to repatriate Filipinos in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday after confirming the first 2019-nCoV case in the country.
"We cannot hamper the desire of our people in Wuhan to come home. What we should do is to facilitate it, but subject to the quarantine measures that they should go under, and that's for 14 days," Duque told radio DZMM.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier assured the estimated 150 Filipinos in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, that the government is ready to repatriate them subject to precautionary measures.
“We are always conscious of our citizens there. If they are going home, we are ready to ferry them back to the Philippines but all precautions must be in place,” Duterte said.
“Naawa naman ako. Puwede natin tulungan,” he added.
Duque confirmed that a 38-year-old Chinese woman who arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan via Hong Kong lasted Jan. 21 tested positive for 2019-nCoV.
The patient is currently confined in a hospital, although she is asymptomatic for now.
Authorities are starting to track the people who were in contact with her.
The 2019-nCoV has killed at least 170 and infected nearly 8,000 others, spreading from Wuhan to several countries in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
To minimize the spread of the new virus, the Philippine government suspended the issuance of visas to travelers from China's Hubei province of which Wuhan is a part, and also discouraged non-essential travel of Filipinos to China.