The 151,000-tonne World Dream, owned by a Hong Kong-based cruise liner, sits anchored at the international port in Manila on Wednesday. AFP
Strong protests over the possible adverse health impact from irate citizens and concerned groups have stopped the visit of a Hong Kong-based cruise liner, with more than 700 passengers and crew to a former US naval installation in Zambales province in Central Luzon due to the coronavirus scare.
In a related development, the Department of Foreign Affairs said they already started proceedings for the repatriation of 50 of the 300 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed in Hubei province, particularly Wuhan City in China, the epicentre of the virus that killed more than 130 with close to 6,000 new cases based on latest reports.
A report from the Philippine embassy in Beijing reported that about 50 the estimated 300 OFWs in Hubei had expressed willingness to be repatriated amid fears that the coronavirus scare would worsen.
The embassy also reported that most of the OFWs complained they were afraid to go out of their homes and that they were running out of supplies like food and water following the lockdown imposed in Wuhan and neighbouring areas.
Meanwhile, officials said the MV World Dream was scheduled to drop anchor on Wednesday at Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City, Zambales but the owners decided instead to return to Hong Kong due to the protests.
The MV World Dream was one of two Chinese cruise ships, carrying a total of 1,700 passengers, earlier "cleared" by the Bureau of Quarantine and allowed to dock at the South Harbour in Manila amid fears of the coronavirus.
Officials said the passengers were allowed to disembark and visit the tourist landmarks in Metro Manila, composed of 15 cities and one town, reportedly as part of the annual celebration of the Chinese New Year.
But the ship owners cancelled the visit to Subic Bay, which has become a popular stop for cruise lines, due to protests from irate citizens, concerned groups and officials of Olongapo City and neighboring areas.
In his letter to the government, Olongapo Mayor Rolen Paulino expressed the sentiment of the protesters, pointing out the temporary cancellation of the ship's visit "would not be unprecedented considering that various cities worlwide have implemented lockdowns in response to the disease."
In addition, individual citizens and concerned group waving placards bearing signs like "No to coronavirus" on Wednesday gathered in front of the major gates leading to Subic Bay that has been converted from a former US naval installation into a bustling freeport.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Menez, an assistant secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced the government was coordinating closely with Chinese officials for the repatriation of the estimated 300 OFWs deployed in Hubei province and Wuhan City.
The DFA said Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin has "two private charter airlines on standby to fly to Hubei to bring our people home upon clearance by Chinese authorities."
Wearing blue surgical masks amid a coronavirus outbreak, 220 couples exchanged vows and kisses in the central Philippines to launch their married lives.
More than 570 people have been infected with the coronavirus across China and Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, has been placed under effective quarantine.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention announced a new case of Coronavirus infection in the country, and added that the patient was stable and under medical care.
The Philippines on Tuesday included Taiwan in its expanded list of countries and territories covered by its travel ban arising from its determined move to help prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus (nCOV) that has already resulted in rising fears and alarm worldwide.
India has amended a law in Jammu and Kashmir allowing Indian citizens to buy land in the disputed territory, said officials, sparking opposition criticism about a steady erosion of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Two people were reported killed and 26 others missing as Typhoon Molave hit central Vietnam on Wednesday, knocking down trees and tearing roofs off homes in some of the worst destruction seen in years.
A senior Chinese official accused the United States on Wednesday of deflecting blame and breaking its word when it comes to fighting climate change, as the simmering diplomatic row between the world's two biggest economies shifts to the environment.
The UAE has strongly condemned the terrorist attack, killing at least eight students and wounding 136 others. It took place on Tuesday in a religious school in the city of Peshawar, northern Pakistan, which claimed the lives of a number of innocent civilians, including children, and wounded others.