The Philippine government is waiting for the approval of the US government before it can repatriate the Filipinos aboard the virus-hit Grand Princess cruise ship in California, a Department of Foreign Affairs official said Wednesday.
Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Arriola said that the department has to observe the US government's protocols for the situation.
“We’re trying to launch repatriation for Grand Princess. Kaso nga lang, siyempre, it is still subject to the approval of the US State Department,” Arriola told GMA News Online.
“So we have to look at the protocol sa country of destination,” she added.
The Department of Health earlier confirmed that more than 500 Filipinos are aboard the Grand Princess, where 21 persons tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A statement from the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco dated Monday said that Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. has been coordinating with US government offices for the repatriation.
Bensurto is still seeking confirmation from the US authorities if any Filipinos have tested positive for the viral infection.
According to the consulate, there are 538 Filipinos aboard the ship: 529 crew members and nine passengers. Some of the Filipinos told the consulate through e-mail that they are generally well. — BM, GMA News