Philippines ready to repatriate Filipinos on cruise ship quarantined off California

/ 02:49 PM March 06, 2020

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, the Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered the cruise ship to hold off the California coast Thursday, March 5, to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least one other became infected. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is ready to repatriate the over 500 Filipinos onboard a cruise ship anchored off Northern California in the United States on suspicion of carrying the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“E kung hihingin nila ang repatriation, kagaya ng ginawa natin before (If they will ask for repatriation, like what we did before), we will do it,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang Friday.


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier confirmed that at least 530 Filipino crew of the Grand Princess are now awaiting test results for COVID-19.

Panelo also expressed confidence that the U.S. government, with its “topnotch” protocols, will handle the Grand Princess situation well.


“Diba ang Amerika napakagaling sa containment (The US government is really good in containment)…I think the protocol of the U.S. is topnotch,” he said.

The ship, which is reportedly carrying at least 3,500 people, was returning to San Francisco after visiting Hawaii. Some of the passengers remained on board after sailing on its previous voyage, to the Mexican ports of Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

The government repatriated on Feb. 25 more than 400 Filipino crewmen of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was anchored in Yokohama, Japan for quarantine of 14 days after some passengers were infected with COVID-19. They were directly taken to New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The coronavirus has infected nearly 98,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,300, the vast majority of them in China.

Edited by MUF

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