85 Filipinos abroad have COVID â DOH  Sheila Crisostomo
Japan recorded the most number of cases, with a total of 80 included in the batch of 538 Filipinos quarantined for 14 days on board M/V Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan.
AFP/Philip Fong
85 Filipinos abroad have COVID — DOH Sheila Crisostomo
(The Philippine Star) - February 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There are now 85 Filipinos abroad infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

“COVID-19 continuously affects our kababayans overseas. The Philippine government remains at their service and would devotedly extend our assistance wherever they are in the world,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a press conference yesterday.

The most recent case, Duque said, is a 29-year-old woman now undergoing management at a health facility in Hong Kong. She is currently in stable condition.

Japan recorded the most number of cases, with a total of 80 included in the batch of 538 Filipinos quarantined for 14 days on board M/V Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan.

Seventy of the 80 are admitted in a hospital in Japan while the remaining 10 have recovered and been discharged. 

The United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong have two cases each while Singapore has one.

Health Assistant Secretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said the technical working group (TWG) of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases is studying the “logistical requirements” of repatriating Filipinos in Macau.

She added the TWG is looking at the process that will be undertaken to do the repatriation, including choosing the carriers that will be used.

Vergeire also maintained the task force will study any proposal to impose a ban on Japan due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.

The DOH also reiterated its call for the public to avoid crowded places, as the Department of Tourism (DOT) was bent on pushing through with the month-long nationwide mall sale in March.

“Our advisory remains. If it cannot be helped, we discourage people from going to places where there is quite a volume of people just to make sure that no increased risk is going to confront our people,” Duque said.

If the shopping festival can’t be stopped anymore, “we just again are consistent with our advisory – disinfection procedures must be followed.”

“The availability of disinfectants must be there, provided by the mall management,” he added.

The health chief also maintained that it is “better if the guards or whoever is designated do thermal gun on everyone who enters the mall ... to more or less reduce the risk.”

The DOT is spearheading a shopping festival from March 1 to 31 in partnership with different malls and associations across the country.

During this event, shoppers can expect discounts from 15 to 70 percent on various Philippine-made products as well as airfares and hotel accommodations.  

Meanwhile, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are implementing an expanded ban on travel to South Korea to include North Gyeongsang province, Daegu and Cheongdo.

He said that foreign nationals coming from South Korea would be screened to ensure they did not come from the banned areas.

“While it is a challenge to identify which passengers from South Korea actually came from said areas, the Korean government is doing measures to ensure that the virus stops spreading to nearby regions,” Medina said. –  With Robertzon Ramirez, Rudy Santos

DIAMPND PRINCESS DOH FRANCISCO DUQUE III S
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