30 OFWs in New Clark City released from quarantine
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the repatriates did not show any symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 and all tested negative for the virus before they were released from quarantine.
AFP/Ted Aljibe, file

30 OFWs in New Clark City released from quarantine

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — All 30 repatriates from Wuhan City in China have received a clean bill of health and were released from the New Clark City quarantine facility in Tarlac yesterday, according to the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the repatriates did not show any symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and all tested negative for the virus before they were released from quarantine.

“Through everyone’s cooperation, we have ZERO infections and ZERO mortalities,” he said in a statement.

Duque shared that one of the repatriates had given birth to a “healthy and strong baby boy” at  the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital.

Also cleared and released were the 10-person Health Emergency Response Team from the DFA and DOH, as well as six flight crew members and three ground crew operators who helped in the transfer of the repatriates from the Clark International Airport to the quarantine facility.

Duque lauded the “selfless” members of the DOH repatriation team who “braved threats and health risks to offer help to their fellow Filipinos.” 

He identified them as team leader Dr. Neptali Labasan from the Bureau of Quarantine, Dr. Oliver Macalinao of San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital, nurses Rowell Divinagracia of the Philippine Heart Center, Jose Juan Jr. from the  DOH-Health Emergency Management Bureau and medical technologist Elmer Collong of the Philippine Heart Center.

DOH Assistant Secretary for Public Health Ma. Rosario Vergeire assured the public the repatriates will remain on their radar amid reports from other countries of patients who re-acquired the virus, but she was quick to clarify that there is still no scientific evidence of this.  

“There are no evidence for all of these.  Everything that were published were pure observation… But we will still follow up on them because we want to be cautious about this,” she said in a TV interview.

Vergeire added that all 49 individuals have been advised to observe their condition and report to the DOH and local health authorities should they develop any sign or symptoms of flu, cough and colds.

For his part, World Health Organization country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe echoed Vergeire’s statement in an interview.

“We have not yet seen evidence of reinfection and the severity of the reinfection. That is something that we are still working on,” Abeyasinghe maintained.

The group – the first batch, so far, of repatriates brought back by the DFA from COVID-19 affected areas – was placed under quarantine for 14 days following their repatriation on Feb. 9 from Wuhan, ground zero of the outbreak.

In  the next few days, the DFA will be bringing back home over 400 Filipinos currently in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is docked in Yokohama, Japan. Hundreds from the ship, including 49 Filipinos, have tested positive for the virus.

Other repatriation efforts will also be undertaken by the DFA in the coming weeks.

Second case

A second Filipino national has contracted COVID-19 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) on Friday announced two new cases of COVID-19, including a Filipino who had close contact with a Chinese national who previously tested positive for the disease.

“The two new cases are for a 34-year-old Filipino and a 39-year-old Bangladeshi. Their condition is stable,” said the ministry.

The new cases brought the confirmed number of cases in the Gulf nation to 11, although MOHAP said three of them have already recovered.

Earlier this month, the UAE government confirmed that a Filipino tested positive for the virus. The DFA at the time said it will closely coordinate with the UAE government on the case.

The DFA has yet to comment on the second confirmed case. – With Janvic Mateo, Edith Regalado

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