MANILA: The Philippines said it would fully cooperate with health authorities in the UAE after reports emerged of a Filipino expatriate contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Filipino was under observation and was being given the necessary medical care in line with UAE standards.
The expat is one of two confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the UAE so far. The other is a Chinese national. There have been seven nCoV cases in the UAE to date.
Two Filipinos have tested positive for the virus. The first was a crew member from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which is currently docked in Japan.
Philippine authorities reminded its overseas workers to practice hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and running water, or applying an alcohol-based sanitizer; observing proper cough etiquette, and avoiding crowds and close contact with people displaying flu-like symptoms.
The Department of Foreign Affairs also advised people to only get information from official sources, such as the UAE’s health authorities, and to avoid sharing any unverified information on social media.
Last week Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III apologized to the UAE government for claiming that an overseas Filipino worker had died in the city from a “still undetermined strain of coronavirus.”
According to the Dubai Government Media Office, the cause of the Filipino woman’s death was pneumonia and she had tested negative for nCoV.
Meanwhile around 30 Filipinos from Wuhan, China, returned to a military air base north of Manila on board a chartered Royal Air flight on Sunday.
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They were taken to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City, Tarlac, where they will be quarantined for 14 days along with the government officials and diplomats who brought them back.“The embassy and the (Shanghai) consulate liaised with Chinese authorities to facilitate the operation,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said. “This past week, two representatives from the Consulate General in Shanghai had to hurdle several border provinces’ clearances along their arduous two-day land travel to Wuhan City to coordinate with the Filipino community and the Foreign Affairs Office in Hubei Province.”
In a press conference on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo expressed confidence that there was no contamination when the repatriated Filipinos arrived at the air base. He added that there were no signs of infection based on the medical reports provided.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año assured residents in the area that protective measures were being enforced. “There is no risk to the residents of Capas Tarlac,” he said in a statement. “How could that be when they will not even see a glimpse or shadow of our overseas foreign workers in the Athletes’ Village?” Año added that the government’s decision to use the area was “out of necessity and of national interest.”
As of Sunday midday the Department of Health said that the number of people under investigation for possible infection in the Philippines had risen to 284. The number includes three confirmed cases, all Chinese visitors from Wuhan, one of whom died on Feb. 1.
Of the 284, 240 were admitted to hospitals, 15 refused hospitalization, and 24 have been discharged. The first confirmed case, a 38-year-old Chinese woman, is recovering and her latest test came back negative.