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Malacañang: No plans yet to evacuate Pinoys in Wuhan, China

There are no plans yet of evacuating Filipinos based in China's Wuhan City, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Malacañang said Sunday.

"Wala tayong narinig na mayroong ganong patakaran si Presidente," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelos said in a radio interview when asked about the Filipinos in the Chinese city.

Fifty-six people have been confirmed dead, while close to 2,000 have fallen ill across the country due to the new coronavirus strain.

According to Panelo, the government cannot force Filipinos in the area to come back to the Philippines, given their employment.

"'Yung Filipino na nasa ibang bansa, they are working there. If they feel that they are safe, hindi mo mapapaalis 'yun don, kasi livelihood nila 'yun," he said.

"Siyempre, 'yung lugar na pinagtratrabahuan nila, mayroon ding ginagawa ang mga authority doon para hindi kumalat," he added.

For those in the area, Panelo said, they should follow precautionary measures suggested by authorities.

"Ang payo natin doon eh kung ano 'yung mga precaution na ibinibigay ng mga local authorities, gagawin nila para hindi sila magkasakit," he said.

The coronavirus outbreak, identified in December, has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. And because it is new, humans have not been able to build any immunity to it.

China has instituted an "unprecedented" lockdown of some cities with populations in the millions in an attempt to curb the spread of the illness.

Cases have appeared in other countries, including the US, with three cases so far; Japan, with four; and France, with three. Lunar New Year celebrations in Paris have been cancelled.

In the Philippines, three Chinese children are currently under observation in a hospital in Aklan, while hundreds of Chinese tourists in the province are scheduled to be flown back to China. —Jon Viktor Cabuenas/LBG/BM, GMA News