Senator Joel Villanueva is calling on the government to quarantine Filipinos who are returning home from areas hit by the Wuhan coronavirus.

Villanueva said a similar measure such as the one used 2014 at the height of the worldwide Ebola virus threat, could be implemented for the returning Filipinos.

“It’s important that we protect the greater majority. Gawin din (Do it also), we strongly advise the inter-agency task force on coronavirus to implement this measure,” Villanueva said.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development was referring to the 139 Filipino peacekeepers who were quarantined for 21 days in Caballo Island after returning from Ebola-hit Liberia as a safety precaution against the deadly virus.

The veteran legislator said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should seriously consider this measure in planning the possible repatriation of Filipinos in Wuhan City in China.

“Repatriating Filipinos from the coronavirus-hit city is better said than done due to logistical and safety issues.”

According to government data, there are around 150 Filipinos in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first detected last December.

The seasoned lawmaker, however, believes that repatriating Filipinos from the 2019-nCoV-hit city is better said than done due to logistical and safety issues involved.

“First, they cannot leave (Wuhan) because it is under lockdown. Second, as far as protecting our people here, we cannot encourage them to come home,” the senator said.

He also urged the government to take all necessary steps to prevent the novel coronavirus from entering the country, which may include banning the entry of cruise ships coming from China.

According to the World Health Organization, the new strain of coronavirus has reached Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, the United States, Canada, and France.

The Philippines remains free of the novel coronavirus.

“Whatever steps the government can do to protect us all, then let’s do it.”

A cruise ship carrying 800 Chinese nationals recently docked in Manila.

“Every time they say that there are still no confirmed cases here does not mean that it is still not here. Kung ano man ang mga hakbangin na kayang gawin ng atin pamahalaan para protektado tayo lahat (Whatever steps the government can do to protect us all), then let’s do it,” Villanueva said.

“As they say, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures,’ kaya baka dapat na kanselahin muna ang mga byahe ng cruise ship na galing sa China (so there may be a need to cancel the travel of cruise ships from China for the meantime),” he concluded. 

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