Wed. Sep 22nd, 2021

MANILA — A total of 445 Filipino nationals have been repatriated by the Philippine government from Japan following their 14-day isolation aboard the coronavirus disease 2019-infected (Covid-19) MV Diamond Princess.

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo said this is the highest number of repatriates among other foreigners on board the cruise ship.

Two charter aircraft ferried the Filipino repatriates from Tokyo to the Philippines. The first one, carrying a total of 309 repatriates, arrived at Clark Airbase at 10:10 p.m. on Tuesday, while the second plane carrying another 136 arrived at 12:12 a.m. on February 26.

“All arrangements upon arrival were handled as agreed in IATF Resolution dated February 21, 2020. After landing, all repatriates, as well as the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and DOH (Department of Health) repatriation team members, and PAL flight crew were brought to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City for the 14-day quarantine program of the DOH, ” the DFA said.

Of the more than 500 Filipino crew and passengers aboard the cruise ship, 80 tested positive for Covid-19 and have been admitted to Japanese hospitals.

As of February 25, the embassy said: “nine crew members have been successfully treated and discharged from the hospitals” with clean bills of health.

“When discharged from the hospital with a clean bill of health, they can take commercial flights according to Japanese health regulations. So the cruise operator will arrange for their accommodations and onward flights,” Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Robespiere Bolivar told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

As early as Tuesday morning, composite teams from the embassy and the DOH had been on the ground at the Yokohama Port and Haneda Airport to assist in the disembarkation and the boarding of the repatriates.

The ship has been quarantined at the Port of Yokohama since February 5, after one of its passengers tested positive for the virus. Passengers were allowed to disembark from February 19 onwards at the end of the 14-day quarantine period.

Crew members, mostly Filipinos, began disembarking after all the passengers left the ship.

The group of 445 is the second batch of Filipinos the DFA brought home following the repatriation of 30 others from the virus-epicenter Wuhan last February 9. (iam/

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