By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is closely coordinating with Filipino workers in countries where there are confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), Malacañang reassured on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after the DFA on Saturday confirmed that a Filipino in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tested positive for 2019-nCoV ARD.
The confirmed case in the UAE is the second Filipino to have contracted 2019-nCoV after a Filipino crew member of the cruise ship Diamond Princess currently docked in Japan tested positive.
Panelo stressed that the safety of Filipinos at home and abroad continue to be the paramount concern of the government.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is closely coordinating with the members of the Filipino communities in countries where there are confirmed cases of the 2019 nCoV, and they can rest assured that the Philippine government is ever ready to provide whatever assistance necessary to protect their welfare,” Panelo said in a statement.
He also assured all Filipinos who have expressed a desire to be repatriated that the government will be “pro-active” in providing assistance and close cooperation with local authorities to assuage fears and combat the deadly virus.
“All protocols and health measures to neutralize this deadly virus have been put in place and are being implemented to secure the safety of our countrymen,” he added.
Meanwhile, Panelo urged the public to pray for the first batch of Filipinos who just returned home from Wuhan City, China, the epicenter of the outbreak and all those attending to them.
“Let us pray for our fellow countrymen, as well as of the members of the repatriation team for their well-being and that they do not show any symptom of having caught the virus, during their period of quarantine,” Panelo said.
The Filipino repatriates arrived at Clark Air Base on Sunday morning and were immediately brought to the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, which will serve as their home for the prescribed 14-day quarantine period.
In an interview over dzIQ, Panelo also assured that the government will shoulder the costs of tests, medicines, confinement, and other hospital-related expenses for patients undergoing quarantine for 2019-nCoV ARD including the Filipino repatriates.
“Tayo nag-so-shoulder (We are the ones shouldering the costs),” Panelo said.
“Kung sa private sila papasok, talagang gagastos sila. Pero kung government, palagay ko hindi (If they get admitted in a private hospital, they’ll really spend. But if it’s a government hospital, I don’t think they will),” he added.
The 2019-nCoV ARD has infected more than 37,100 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHP).
In the Philippines, the number of persons under investigation (PUIs) for 2019-nCoV ARD has risen to 215, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Currently, there is still no known cure for 2019-nCoV but those infected receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms while severe cases should include care to support vital organ functions (PNA)