MANILA -- Filipino repatriates from Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, will undergo three levels of health screening before and upon arrival to the Philippines, government officials said Saturday.
On Sunday morning, some 30 Filipino nationals are expected to arrive at the Clark International Airport via a Royal Air flight arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Both DFA and Department of Health (DOH) officials assured that quarantine protocols are in place and a three-level health screening is in fact implemented.
"There will be three stages of screening. While still in China, they will be examined if they have symptoms and if there are, they will not be allowed to board the flight," DOH Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said in a press briefing in Pampanga prior to the send-off of a DFA-DOH health emergency response team to Wuhan.
While on the plane, the Philippine medical team will closely monitor the repatriates, particularly their possible development of the 2019-novel coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease symptoms.
"(If they showed symptoms) they will be ushered at the back of the plane so there is already a distance while on the plane. Once they get off, there will be quarantine personnel right at the airstairs," Bayugo added.
Bayugo said those with symptoms will be escorted by an ambulance on standby to a designated hospital for management. The asymptomatic ones, on the other hand, will proceed directly to the bus awaiting them at the tarmac off to the New Clark City.
DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said the repatriates, as well as the flight crew and government team accompanying them, will all be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period.
"The repatriation will not happen in the passenger airport but in the airport hangar in Clark," she added.
The DFA initially reported that 56 Filipino repatriates have expressed intent to return, but on Saturday, Arriola clarified there had been a number who backed out.
"Some of them backed out last minute, they realized they still want to work there and stay but some had problems with visa and violations," she shared.
DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said the government is ready to facilitate another repatriation operation from Wuhan
if there would be more Filipinos who wish to return.
"If they cannot make it during the first batch, we are ready to organize another repatriation flight for the others)," Dulay said. (PNA)