The Filipinos left the M/V Diamond Princess – docked in Yokohama in Japan – on Tuesday so they could undergo 14-day quarantine in the Philippines.
AFP/Behrouz Mehri
445 Pinoys from ships showing no symptoms
Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — None of the 445 Filipinos repatriated from the cruise ship Diamond Princess earlier this week has shown symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.

He told a press conference that the 440 Filipino crew and five passengers of the cruise ship are still being monitored closely at the quarantine facility in New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.

The same goes for the 13 members of the repatriation team – nine from the Department of Health and four from the Department of Foreign Affairs who were also put in isolation at NCC.

“President Duterte has directed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to take all the necessary measures to ensure the health and safe return of our kababayans aboard the cruise ship. The well-being of our fellow Filipinos, no matter where they are, is of utmost importance,” Duque added.

The health chief stressed they only allowed the repatriation of Filipinos who were negative for COVID-19 infection in Japan.

Eighty Filipinos found positive for the virus remain in Japan to undergo treatment and management. Two others have recovered but they will be sent home on a separate flight.

He said the repatriates underwent five levels of screening for fever and respiratory signs and symptoms before they were allowed to disembark from the ship and take flights to the Philippines where they were made to stay at the quarantine facility in Tarlac.

The health chief said they’re not letting their guard down even if there is still no local transmission of the virus.

“As observed in other countries, there is still a possibility that our nationals may eventually test positive upon their return. We have prepared and equipped our hospitals and laboratory facilities, and allocated all necessary resources and PPEs (personal protective equipment) should this happen,” he said.

DOH Assistant Secretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire said as a protocol, all quarantined individuals would be assessed twice daily – first via telemedicine and through actual physical examination.

They will be provided with food, hygiene kits and appropriate health services. An ambulance team is also on standby 24/7 to conduct hospital transfer, if needed.

The Filipinos left the M/V Diamond Princess – docked in Yokohama in Japan – on Tuesday so they could undergo 14-day quarantine in the Philippines.

As COVID-19 spread continues, especially in other countries, Sen. Sonny Angara said the government must implement “a resilience plan” that will allow the economy to withstand the impact of the contagion and other external and internal shocks.

Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, made the call at the start of the inquiry of the panel on the drafting of an economic roadmap to produce world-class products and services that will proudly bear the “Tatak Pinoy” brand.

He said the country must be able “to deftly evade” the brunt of COVID-19 and the shutdown of plants and back offices of Honda, Wells Fargo and other multinationals in the country.

“Yes, there is no vaccine yet against the virus. But in terms of protecting our economy, in increasing its defenses, I believe that government must have a contingency plan,” Angara said.

He said the virus can put “some vulnerable sectors of the economy like tourism in the ICU if we do not mount measures that will cushion its impact.”

The committee earlier conducted workshops on how “to evolve a consuming economy to one that produces and invests” long before the global crisis broke out in Wuhan, China.

“So in addition to the agenda of creating more jobs within the next decade, we are now faced with the challenge of protecting jobs within the next weeks or months,” Angara said.

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