More than 400 Filipinos from cruise ship to return home; 52 others positive for COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — More than 400 Filipinos aboard the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan will be repatriated, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
In a press conference at the DOH main office, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said around 460 to 480 individuals were included in the government’s repatriation plan
“The repatriation of around 460 to 480 Filipinos aboard the cruise ship has requested assistance from the Philippines,” she said, noting that the decision was discussed during the seventh meeting of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF).
The health official, however, stressed that the DOH has yet to give a complete and exact figure of the number of Filipinos to be sent to the Philippines.
Vergeire said they would be quarantined in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, where Filipinos from Wuhan City of Hubei province had been confined.
Vergeire added that only two flights, which will be three hours apart, would be sent to bring Filipinos to the country. They would also be assisted by medical teams in hazmats suits to protect the crew and medical teams, Vergeire said.
The flights will also be coordinated by the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Japanese government.
Vergeire also said the Department of Transportation would help in fetching the Filipinos from Haribon Airport to New Clark City while Overseas Workers Welfare Administration would distribute livelihood packages to the repatriates.
She stressed that tests would be conducted for all the repatriates inside the cruise ship to check whether they have symptoms related to COVID-19.
The health official said Filipinos with novel coronavirus symptoms would not be allowed to go home to the Philippines.
DOH also has yet to provide the exact date for the repatriation of the Filipinos.
52 Filipinos positive for COVID-19
Meanwhile, 52 other Filipinos on board the vessel, who tested positive for the deadly virus, would also be sent home but the government would need to study further on the logistics of their repatriation, Vergeire said.
“We will not be leaving them behind, pag-uusapan logistics wise o kung paano iuuwi. (The government will study the logistics on how to help these Filipinos in repatriation),” Vergeire said.
“Kung sakaling verified ang 52, hindi ito sabay sabay na pumasok sa ospital. Kung sakali, maaaring kailangang pagplanuhan kung paano sila maiuuwi at maa-accomodate,” she added.
(If the figure of 52 is verified, these people entered the hospital in different dates. If ever, we really need to plan how they will return to the Philippines, and how they will be accommodated.)
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