PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants to personally welcome Filipinos coming from China, the origin of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, a Palace official claimed Wednesday, as the Philippines prepares for the arrival of the first batch of repatriates on Saturday.
Duterte wants to see the arrival of the repatriates but there are still ongoing discussions with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) over his security, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters in Malacañang.
“The President wants to be there. He’d like to be there on Saturday pero tingnan na muna natin sa (let’s see with the) PMS and PSG,” Nograles said.
The President had ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to welcome the repatriates and to ensure that protective measures are in place, Nograles added.
Malacañang on Wednesday said the repatriates would arrive at the Clark International Airport and transported to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija for a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
As of Wednesday, 42 Filipinos have expressed their desire to come home, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez.
The President, who earlier said that the virus outbreak was “nothing really to be extra-scared of,” also rejected calls of his staff to limit his public engagements for the meantime, Nograles said.
“He (Duterte) just wants to keep on doing the things he’s doing without imposing limitations sa kaniyang (on his) movement,” the Cabinet secretary said. “He doesn’t want to change the way he conducts his business.”
There are a total of 300 Filipinos in Hubei. Some 150 of the Filipinos are in Wuhan and the rest are from outside the city but within the province, the DFA said.
The Fort Magsaysay Drug Rehabilitation Center in Nueva Ecija can accommodate 10,000 individuals.
Aside from Fort Magsaysay, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the government is also eyeing the naval station at Caballo Island off Cavite province as a possible quarantine area for returning OFWs.
Meanwhile, Panelo assured that all safeguards made by concerned government agencies are now in place in order to contain the deadly virus.
The Bureau of Immigration has implemented the directives of the President such as the general restriction of entry of individuals coming from China and its special administrative regions — Hong Kong and Macao, he said.
Officials on the ground, particularly barangay captains, have been ordered to act in accordance with the tempo dictated by the national government.
The Department of Education has issued advisories for students to avoid huge crowds and discouraged schools from conducting field trips.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office has intensified the dissemination of public health advisories and guidelines.
Panelo said the public is also encouraged to observe the protocols and rules designed to combat the virus.
There are two confirmed cases of nCoV-acute respiratory disease in the country, while the number of persons under investigation (PUIs) for possible infection has risen to 105.
Global deaths due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have reached 427 with more than 20,000 infected, mostly from China, Hong Kong, and Macao, according to the World Health Organization.