MANILA, Philippines, February 27 ------ The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is set to purchase 19,000 units of test kits that will be used to check all repatriates who would be quarantined in New Clark City, Tarlac, over COVID-19. The Department of Health (DOH) revealed this Wednesday during a press conference in Manila with Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire saying RITM is already on its “procurement stage” for the test kits.
According to her, the test kits will be “coming from an imported source” but that she has no information yet on where exactly the test kits would come from. “Wala pang information kung saang country natin ito bibilhin [We have no information yet on which country the test kits will be procured],” Vergeire said. All Filipino repatriates are subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine in the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City located in Capas town.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in the same press conference that all 445 repatriates – consisting of 400 crewmen and five tourists – from the isolated Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and 13 members of the repatriation team are asymptomatic and negative for COVID-19 after conducting five levels of screening for fever and respiratory signs and symptoms. The 445 repatriates along with the 13 employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and DOH are in the Athlete’s Village and already started their 14-day quarantine. According to Vergeire, if one of the repatriates suddenly becomes positive for the deadly virus, around 20 hospitals in Central Luzon are ready to treat them.
The 445 repatriates were brought home from Japan via two separate flights – the first batch arrived at 10 p.m. on Tuesday while the second batch arrived at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Now asymptomatic crew members Duque said 10 crew members, who tested positive for COVID-19 while still aboard the cruise ship, were already discharged from hospitals. All 10 are still in Japan as of this posting. The Health chief also said they are still communicating with DFA about plans for asymptomatic crew members, who previously tested positive for the virus. “They [crew members] are still in Japan. The communication lines are open between them and DFA we are awaiting advise from DFA on what the latest desire or plans of these 10 who eventually got well,” Duque said.
Previously, DFA revealed 80 crewmen on the cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus.