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Pinoy Abroad

Repatriation of Filipinos on Diamond Princess rescheduled

The scheduled repatriation of almost 500 Filipinos onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan on Sunday will be postponed, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Saturday.

In a statement, the DOH said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) will adjust the schedule to early next week as a cautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of the Filipinos onboard.

"This is to allow the Japanese health authorities to complete the laboratory testing of the 400-plus Filipino crew members aboard the ship and comply with the established protocols," the DOH said.



It also gave the assurance that the Japanese government is working to ensure that appropriate services are being provided to the affected passengers.

"Our Tokyo Embassy is working closely with the Japanese health and foreign ministry to complete the quarantine protocols for the Philippine Government to repatriate our Filipino crew members as soon as possible," it added.

The agency earlier said the repatriation may be delayed as testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 is not yet finished.

Malacañang earlier said that 497 Filipinos have confirmed their intention to be flown over the weekend.

The repatriated Filipinos will stay at the Athlete's Village in New Clark City (NCC) for a 14-day quarantine period.

They will be the second batch of repatriated Filipinos to stay at the NCC with the first being Filipinos who were repatriated from COVID-hit Wuhan and Hubei Province in China.

Residents in Capas, Tarlac lamented that there will be a second batch of repatriated Filipinos to stay at NCC after being told that only one batch will be accommodated there.

Meanwhile, the number of Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 has risen to  49, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay announced on Saturday.

Dulay however assured the Filipinos are currently receiving their treatment.

"All infected Filipinos were cared for in Japanese hospitals. Two of them were successfully treated and discharged," he said.

Relatives of Filipino crew members aboard the ship on Saturday expressed worry over their family members' health as they met with the local agency in Cebu that hired them.

One crew member earlier said they were in anguish as operations continued aboard the ship.

"Eh, hindi nga namin alam nasaan 'yung virus. Dapat nga eh, hindi na kami nagtratrabaho. Dapat nagpapahinga na kami," Roger, not his real name, said.

However, management urged them to continue their daily activities due to the presence of passengers on board.

The cruise ship and its 3,711 passengers were placed under quarantine on February 3 after a former passenger tested positive for the virus.

Passengers began disembarking on Wednesday after the quarantine period ended.

The death toll in mainland China due to the virus has climbed to 2,345 with more than 76,000 confirmed cases. —Joahna Lei Casilao/KG, GMA News