163 Filipinos arrive in Manila from Macau amid COVID-19 crisis

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Some 163 Filipinos from Macau arrived in Manila  Saturday afternoon after being flown out amid the continuing spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  

“Touch down! The chartered flight arranged by the Philippine government carrying a total of 163 Filipinos from Macau has now landed in Manila. Welcome home, mga kababayan,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.  

However, the DFA said  five passengers were unable to board for various reasons,  while another passenger joined late.

On the other hand, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo,  in a statement, thanked the government in Macau for the Filipinos coming back home.  

“We thank the authorities of Macau, in close coordination with the Philippine Consulate General in the aforesaid Special Administrative Region, for arranging this repatriation flight,”  Panelo said.

“With the surge of news reports on the coronavirus disease 2019, the Philippine Government remains ready and is prepared in serving and protecting Filipinos here and abroad,” said Panelo.  

The repatriates were met  by officials of the DFA and Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), before undergoing medical procedures by the Bureau of Quarantine.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the first batch of Filipinos repatriated from Macau will undergo health assessment.

“Silang lahat ay mag-undergo ng assessment, titingnan kung sino sa kanila ang may sintomas,” said Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The Philippines has a standing travel ban on China, including Hong Kong and Macau, following the outbreak of the acute respiratory disease, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.   

The Philippine government relaxed restrictions last month, but only for Filipinos returning to Hong Kong and Macau.

DOH  authorities on Saturday raised Code Red after confirmed another case of COVID-19 in the wife of a patient earlier diagnosed with the infection, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 6.

It also sought a declaration of state of public health emergency, which President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved, according to Senator  Bong Go./Stacy Ang

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