January 29 ------ The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered the immediate repatriation of Filipinos who wish to return home from Hubei province in China amid the 2019 novel coronavirus scare. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Dodo Dulay on Tuesday said they have ordered the Philippine consulate in Shanghai to immediately begin processing the requests of Filipinos in Hubei to be repatriated. The DFA official also announced on Tuesday night that the department is suspending the issuance of Philippine visas to travelers from Hubei province in China.
Dulay said the order was issued after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases proposed the measure in a resolution. The same resolution also sought travel advisories discouraged the “non-essential” travel of Filipinos to China. Dulay said two private charter airlines are already on standby to fly to Hubei upon receiving clearance from Chinese authorities. Health and Foreign Affairs officials earlier said Filipinos who will be repatriated from China must undergo a two-week quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hubei province was among the areas in China placed on lockdown after the novel coronavirus broke out in Wuhan City last December. The DFA said there were 300 Filipinos in Hubei, half of them in Wuhan. So far, 50 have reportedly indicated their wish to come home.