The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) should prompt the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to have systems in place for the evacuation of Filipinos in Wuhan, China, Senator Win Gatchalian said.

It is important, Gatchalian noted, that these Filipinos should be located ahead of a possible evacuation, adding that the DFA should constantly monitor the situation  of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Wuhan so that the government can address their needs.

The DFA has reported that there are around 150 Filipinos in Wuhan City in China, the source of the novel coronavirus that has already killed 106 people in China.

The veteran legislator cited the example of the United States, which initiated an evacuation of American citizens from Wuhan.

“We have to prepare for any eventuality.”

“We have to prepare for any eventuality”, said the seasoned lawmaker, who expressed alarm that Filipinos are not spared from being infected if the virus is not contained.

“Nakakabahala ang mabilis na pagkalat ng coronavirus sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo at mahalagang may regular din dapat na ibinibigay na balita ang DFA tungkol sa kaligtasan ng ating mga OFW,” said the senator.

“The DFA should coordinate more closely with DOLE, POEA and OWWA to ensure that OFWs are protected from the threat of the 2019-nCoV.”

He added that the DFA should coordinate more closely with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to ensure that overseas OFWs  are protected from the novel coronavirus threat.

According to the January 26 situation report of the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 2,014 cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported globally, 1,985 of which were from China. Twenty-nine cases were confirmed in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, the United States, and France.

The 2019-nCoV was first reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. Symptoms of this new coronavirus strain include fever, coughing, and difficulty in breathing. The novel coronavirus belongs to a large family of viruses that causes, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-(MERS), and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Authorities warn that the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.

The Department of Health has recently revealed that 24 persons are now under monitoring and investigation for suspected 2019-nCoV infection.


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