First batch of Filipinos from China to arrive Saturday, undergo quarantine in Fort Magsaysay
The first batch of Filipinos from China are set to arrive on Saturday in Clark, Pampanga and they would be brought directly to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija for quarantine to ensure that the deadly novel coronavirus would not spread in the country, Malacanang said on Wednesday.
The decision was reached during the 46th Cabinet meeting called by President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night in Malacanang.
"President Duterte expressed his concerns about the welfare of the Filipinos flying from China or its Special Administrative Regions to the country," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
During the meeting, he said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported that the Department of Health is preparing Fort Magsaysay as a quarantine area, which could accommodate 10,000 individuals.
"The arrival of the initial batch of repatriated Filipinos will be on Saturday at the Clark Airport and transportation to Fort Magsaysay has already been prepared. The President instructed the Health Secretary to go to the site to properly address the people affected in detail," said Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel.
The facility in Fort Magsaysay was built for drug rehabilitation and was donated by a Chinese philanthropist during the early part of the Dueterte administration.
As noted by Duterte, Panelo said the officials on the ground, particularly barangay captains, should "act in accordance with the tempo dictated by the National Government or face charges for nonfeasance."
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that about 40 Filipinos from Wuhan have signified their interest to be repatriated in the country.
There are around 300 Filipinos in Hubei province, including some 150 in its capital Wuhan, the epicenter of nCoV.
Duterte also directed the Presidential Communications Operations Office to spend more time in informing the public of the health advisories and guidelines laid out by the health experts regarding the nCoV "with an assurance that if the public will just observe the same, then they should be safe from being infected by the virus."
Panelo said that the travel ban against individuals coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions, such as Hong Kong and Macau, continues.
In the Cabinet meeting, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia acknowledged the possible impact of the coronavirus, including the travel ban, on the local economy.
Panelo, quoting Pernia, said that the global slowdown in the aspect of economic growth would affect Philippine exports.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, on the other hand, assured that her office is committed to protect the interest of students and learners, as school field trips were also being discouraged.
One male Chinese national from Wuhan died in the Philippines while being treated in a government hospital. Celerina Monte/DMS