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DOH discussing repatriation of Filipino crew in cruise ship with manpower agency

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

The Department of Health (DOH) is now working with shipping authorities for the possible evacuation of the more than 500 Filipinos in the cruise ship that has been moored in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan and where hundreds have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).



Secretary Francisco Duque III said, in an interview with CNN Philippines Monday morning, that the DOH has already been in talks with the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, which supplied the Filipino crew in the quarantined Diamond Princess ship.

More than 300 people in the cruise ship have been infected by the COVID-19, with foreign affairs officials reporting Monday that the number of infected Filipinos rose to 27.

“The planning has begun, in fact, our people have already sat down with officials of the Magsaysay shipping lines to discuss where, which places will the 500 more or less crew [members] and few passengers will be quarantined, so we hope to  be able to get some answers before the end of the day,” Duque told CNN Philippines’ New Day.

Duque said the evacuation of the Filipinos from the virus hit-cruise ship will be discussed in the DOH-led Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) Tuesday, February 18, including the facility where they will be held in quarantine once they arrive in the country.

Magsaysay has been asked to look for possible quarantine areas to house the 531 Filipino crew members of Diamond Princess. Aside from the 531 crew members, at least seven Filipino were also aboard the cruise ship, Duque said.

Duque said the Filipinos would have to be subject to a fresh two-week quarantine here despite going through the same process in Japan.

They could be brought to the temporary quarantine area in New Clark City where the first batch of repatriates from China where taken recently.

“But that will also depend on their decision. Because, if you recall the first batch of the repatriates, who are housed in the New Clark City quarantine facility, these consist of 32 all in all, and many of them opted not to join the first group of repatriates. So…the decision will eventually come from the persons themselves,” the DOH chief noted.

Duque said the IATF-EID will also be tackling the possible inclusion of Singapore in the ongoing travel ban, as well the proposals to lift the flight restrictions from Hong Kong and Macau.

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