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DFA: 4,000 Pinoy crew of cruise ship arriving

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:10 AM March 29, 2020

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday said the government would repatriate in the next three weeks more than 4,000 Filipino seafarers and crewmen who have been displaced by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

However, Locsin revealed on Twitter that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), were still struggling to find accommodations for the returning seafarers whom the Department of Health (DOH) required to undergo a 14-day quarantine since they came from ships where there had been outbreaks of COVID-19.

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Locsin said on Sunday that some 530 Filipino crew of the Costa Favolosa and Costa Magica cruise ships would be arriving in Manila.

“There are no hotels or motels to book them in. While the DOT has a list of accommodations, the Owwa must approve the items in the list; however, Owwa says it cannot approve the DOT list unless the DOH first approves the list. The DOH says that the rooms must qualify as individual isolation wards with room service so there is no mingling just in case some are [positive for] COVID,” he said.

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The two cruise ships are docked off the waters of Miami-Dade county in Florida.

According to local reports, the US Coast Guard rescued a few days ago 13 crew members from the two ships who were stricken with COVID-19.There are only crew members on board the two ships after the cruise ship owners suspended all trips.

Locsin said it had been suggested that the DOH test the incoming crew but a DOH undersecretary, whom he did not name, said no.

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