Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the country’s largest military reservation, will serve as quarantine site for Filipinos expected to return from virus-hit China, Malacañan Palace said on Wednesday.

This developed as health officials confirmed a third case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection in the Philippines, a 60-year-old Chinese woman who traveled from the virus epicenter Wuhan, China to Hong Kong, then Cebu and Bohol.

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte, during Tuesday night’s Cabinet meeting, expressed concern over the welfare of the Filipinos flying from China, Hong Kong or Macau.

“Secretary Duque reported that they are now preparing Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as a quarantine area, which can accommodate 10,000 individuals. The arrival of the initial batch of repatriated Filipinos will be on Saturday at the Clark Airport and transportation to Fort Magsaysay has already been prepared. The President instructed the Health Secretary to go to the site to properly address the people affected in detail,” Panelo said.

Duterte, Panelo added, said barangay or village officials should be tapped to help contain the virus “in accordance with the tempo dictated by the National Government or face charges for non-feasance.”

Negative, initially

The Philippines’s third case was not announced earlier because initial test results from the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Australia and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa were negative.

The patient went to a hospital in Bohol and was allowed to return home on Jan. 31 after recovering from illness, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told reporters in a press briefing.

Later, however, the RITM reported that an earlier sample from the Chinese woman tested positive.

Health officials were tracing persons the Chinese woman had close contact with, including passengers on her flights, Domingo said.

Amid suggestions Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should resign over his handling of the situation, Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Alexei Nograles said the health chief still had the president’s trust.

In a Senate inquiry on Tuesday, Duque blamed his underlings for the slow process of tracing all the people in close contact with the first two confirmed cases, one of whom, a Chinese traveler from Wuhan, died on Saturday.

“I don’t think that is proper to do right now, given the circumstances and given the efforts that are being poured into this ‘no. Like I said, si Secretary Duque with all of the circumstances with, having known the situation, he is hands on with everything, he’s done his job so far,” he told reporters.

In a statement following Tuesday’s Senate inquiry, opposition senator Francis Pangilinan said Duque was “in the dark” on the nCoV situation.

“The health secretary was clearly in the dark as to his department’s efforts to trace the passengers of the two flights which flew in the two nCoV patients. This most basic intervention was at 17-percent success rate two weeks into the outbreak. Worse, the secretary was unaware and only found out during the hearing that it was a dismal 17 percent,” he said. (