Philippines to repatriate Filipinos aboard virus-hit cruise ship in 'coming days'
A bus carrying passengers who disembarked from the Diamond Princess cruise ship (back) in quarantine due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, leaves the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on February 19, 2020.
AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi
Philippines to repatriate Filipinos aboard virus-hit cruise ship in 'coming days'
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 19, 2020 - 12:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is preparing to repatriate Filipinos from a coronavirus-wracked cruise ship in Japan who do not exhibit symptoms of the deadly disease.

Passengers who tested negative for the illness began disembarking from the Diamond Princess after the quarantine period came to an end Wednesday.

More than 500 Filipinos, mostly crew members, are on the ship, where there are at least 542 confirmed cases—the biggest cluster outside mainland China.

“All Filipino passengers and crew of Diamond Princess who will request repatriation will be accommodated by the Philippine government in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Health,” Health Assistant Secretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

She said the government eyes to bring home the Filipino passengers and crew members of the vessel in the coming days.

In a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said he has ordered the immediate repatriation of Filipinos onboard the ship.

A quarantine facility for them was also identified during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease Tuesday but the Health official refused to disclose where it is.

A previous batch of repatriates—30 people from Wuhan, China—were brought to a facility for athletes at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. Residents and local officials of Capas initially opposed hosting the repatriated Filipinos in their town but later acquiesced to the national government's plan.

READ: Filipinos repatriated from Hubei to be quarantined in New Clark City

Vergeire said authorities have begun coordinating with the concerned local government.

“We need to coordinate properly, finalize the arrangement of the facility. Once this is final, everything is going to be processed already. Testing will be done, assessment will be done and hopefully the repatriation will be ironed out in the coming days,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

More than 74,000 in China have been diagnosed positive for the illness. Hundreds more cases have been reported in nearly 30 countries. — with a report from Agence France-Presse

DIAMOND PRINCESS NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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