MANILA, Philippines, February 24 ------ Filipino crewmembers and passengers of the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess will be repatriated tomorrow, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. A report said more passengers were allowed to disembark from the cruise ship as Japan apologized when it allowed 23 others to leave without being properly tested. “This may be why Japan offered to host the Filipino crew before their repatriation for testing (completed but not all the results are in). Those found positive have been hospitalized. We accepted with deep gratitude. Thank you Japan. So far 25 Feb is repatriation day,” Locsin tweeted yesterday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is set to repatriate over 400 Filipino crewmembers and passengers of the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama, Japan. The group is the second batch of repatriates that the DFA will bring home from COVID-19-affected areas. The first batch of 30 repatriates from Wuhan completed their 14-day quarantine at New Clark City on Saturday. The DFA said it is best for the Filipinos to be brought home and taken to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac for full medical checkup by health professionals from the Department of Health (DOH).
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for civilian security and consular concerns Brigido Dulay said the DFA, together with the Philippine embassy in Tokyo, is doing its best to bring home the Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess, site of the most number of COVID-19 cases outside China. The DFA is closely working with the Japanese government to finalize details on the repatriation of over 400 Filipinos aboard the ship. The repatriation preparations include securing clearances and permits for disembarkation, land transfer and arrangements for the chartered flights.
The DFA is also coordinating with the Japan Self-Defense Forces in arranging the land transfer of the repatriates from Yokohama Port to Haneda where a chartered flight will take off. The department is likewise working closely with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to ensure completion of the laboratory testing of all Filipinos on the ship in compliance with the established Japanese quarantine protocols, in time for the repatriation date. The DFA assured the repatriates that they would be taken care of from disembarkation until their safe arrival in the Philippines. A total of 49 Filipinos have tested positive for COVID-19 and two have been discharged from hospital. Five more Filipinos diagnosed with the disease are waiting to be discharged from quarantine or medical facilities.