Go: Up to 50 Filipinos in Wuhan want to return to PH amid coronavirus outbreak

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — Up to 50 Filipinos in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak, want to come home, according to Senate Health Committee chairman Christopher “Bong” Go.

Go said the desire of some 30 to 50 Filipinos currently living in the city south of China’s capital Beijing was discussed Monday in a meeting of high-level officials of the Department of Health and Department of Foreign Affairs, which he attended.

Handa naman po ang ating gobyerno magpadala ng eroplano kung sakali, sunduin sila doon sa China. Ang problema kung papayag ang China,” he told reporters at the Senate.

[Translation: We are ready to send an airplane if we need to take them home from China. The problem is if China will allow it.]

Go said it is important to make sure that these Filipinos are clear of the Wuhan coronavirus, known to health officials as 2019-nCoV, before they are allowed entry to the Philippines.

The DFA said in a statement that it sought the DOH’s guidance on the establishment of protocols on evacuation and repatriation of Filipinos in Wuhan and other affected cities and provinces.

DFA Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. has said that they will only take direction regarding their diplomatic response to the coronavirus outbreak from DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The DFA said Sunday that it is in touch with around 150 Filipinos in Wuhan through the Philippine Consulate General in Shanghai.

Wuhan has been on lockdown for four days due to the 2019-nCoV outbreak, with Chinese authorities barring all departures from the city’s airport and rail stations.

Despite this, the US, Australia, India and France have made moves to repatriate their citizens from the Chinese city.

More than 80 people have died due to the virus in China, while 2,700 people across the country have been infected with the virus, thought to be related to the coronavirus that causes the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Outside of China, more than 40 confirmed cases have been identified in about a dozen countries. In the Philippines, 11 people have been under investigation since January 12 for a possible infection of 2019-nCoV.

Local health officials have said that the country remains free of the new coronavirus and have warned against disinformation about supposed cases spreading online.

CNN Philippines’ Joyce Ilas and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.