163 stranded Filipinos from Macau arrive home

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) —  A total of 163 Filipino workers who were stranded in Macau due to the coronavirus-related travel ban on China's special administrative region are now back in the Philippines.

Manila International Airport Authority said the special Air Macau flight carrying the passengers landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 at 4:15 p.m.

The majority of them were “undocumented and irregular” Filipino workers and the rest were documented employees, the DFA said.

All passengers — consisting of workers, minors, senior citizens, tourists and five infants — underwent quarantine procedures upon arriving at NAIA, it added.

DFA previously said 167 Filipinos will be evacuated. It is unclear why fewer evacuees were flown back home.

The Foreign Affairs department earlier said only those without symptoms of the coronavirus disease will be allowed to board the plane. But if any of them show signs of the COVID-19, they will immediately be referred for hospital care to undergo treatment and tests.

Flights to and from Macau have been suspended since early February amid the Philippines' travel ban to mainland China and its special administrative regions.

Exempted are those living, working and studying in Hong Kong and Macau.

Filipinos and their foreign spouses or children, as well as holders of diplomatic visas could enter the Philippines, but they are the required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

The government has previously evacuated Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, which was quarantined at the Japanese port of Yokohama, Tokyo following the discovery of COVID-19 cases there, as well as from Wuhan – the Chinese city as the epicenter of the outbreak.