By Roy Mabasa
Filipinos onboard MV Diamond Princess are expected to be repatriated back to the Philippines next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
“This is the expectation as of today, many details are still being worked out,” DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez told reporters.
There are more than 500 Filipino crewmen onboard the cruise ship, 40 of them are currently admitted in various hospitals in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area after being found positive of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
One male crew who was among those getting treatment was released from the hospital yesterday, Feb. 19, after recovering from the disease.
The DFA’s latest statement contradicted the March 5 target date that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced on Wednesday.
Meñez explained that March 5 was originally proposed because the crewmembers were supposed to do another14-day quarantine on the ship.”
“But recent information is that the additional quarantine can be done in home countries,” he said.
If the planned repatriation pushes through, the Philippine government is expected to dispatch chartered flights to Tokyo and bring the repatriates to a still undisclosed quarantine facility.