At least 30 Filipinos who were staying in Wuhan, China when the novel coronavirus started affecting people arrived in the Philippines on Sunday morning.
The Royal Air plane landed before 7 a.m. at Clark in Pampanga and was to go straight to Haribon Hangar of the Philippine Air Force, GMA News' Chino Gaston reported on Dobol B sa News TV aired on GMA News TV.
The passengers will not go through the Clark International Airport terminal.
Medical personnel wearing personal protective equipment were seen waiting at the tarmac to meet the plane's passengers on Sunday.
Medical personnel in PPE wait for Pinoys from Wuhan to disembark from the airplane. pic.twitter.com/uaHrXMhchf— Chino Gaston (@chinogaston) February 8, 2020
The Filipinos were repatriated with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
From an estimated 50 Filipinos expected to take the flight, only 30 Pinoys boarded the mercy flight, with one child among them.
The DFA confirmed that the flight from Wuhan was already airborne before 6 a.m. Sunday.
DFA confirm plane with Pinoys from Wuhan already flying back to the Philippines! pic.twitter.com/qF5lfiX8uu— Chino Gaston (@chinogaston) February 8, 2020
The Royal Air plane left Clark International Airport for China past 10 p.m. on Saturday.
The Filipinos from Wuhan were assisted by an eight-member Health Emergency Response Team (HERT) from the DFA and Department of Health.
The repatriated Filipinos are expected to board buses that would take them to the Athlete's Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac for their 14-day quarantine period.
The drivers of the said buses were seen at the Philippine Air Force hangar at past 4 a.m. on Sunday all dressed up in personal protective equipment.
Quarantine bus drivers seen in Philippine Airforce Hangar all dressed up in personal protective equipment in preparation for the arrival of Filipinos from Wuhan. pic.twitter.com/3XZ6gBDpUM— Chino Gaston (@chinogaston) February 8, 2020
According to Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, at the Athlete's Village, one room will be assigned for each repatriate, except for families, especially those with children, who can all stay in one room.
The returning Filipinos will also be given cellphone privileges, so they can contact their relatives once they arrive.
A mental health team is also on standby to attend to the mental wellness of the repatriated Filipinos three days into the quarantine period.
Meanwhile, the crew manning the flight will be considered as persons under monitoring and will also undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Wuhan is said to be the epicenter of the deadly novel coronavirus which has claimed 803 lives in China as of Sunday. One person, a Chinese national, died in the Philippines after contracting nCoV.
Bayugo said the government will charter another flight to repatriate any more Filipinos from Wuhan who were not able to board the flight that arrived in the country on Sunday, according to a report on Dobol B sa News TV.
He said some Filipinos were not able to have their documents readied in time for the said flight. —KG, GMA News