445 Filipinos aboard coronavirus-hit cruise ship under quarantine in Philippines

A bus believed to be carrying passengers of the cruise ship Diamond Princess leaves Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, on Feb 17, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (XINHUA) - A total of 445 Filipinos aboard the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, entered a 14-day quarantine at a facility north of Manila after they were flown back to the Philippines on two flights late on Tuesday (Feb 25) night and early on Wednesday morning.

"After the release of negative laboratory results of tests conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the repatriates were allowed to disembark from the ship and transfer by bus to Haneda airport," the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The Philippine government chartered two Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights to bring home the Filipino crew members and passengers from Japan to Clark International Airport in Pampanga province.

The DFA said the first flight, which carried 309 passengers, as well as a two-member repatriation team from the DFA and a four-member health response team from the Department of Health, arrived at Clark Airbase at 10.10pm on Tuesday.

The DFA added that the second flight, with 136 passengers in addition to a two-member DFA team and a five-member team from the DOH, arrived at 12.12am on Wednesday.

Upon landing, the DFA said all repatriates, as well as the DFA and DOH repatriation team members, and PAL flight crew were taken to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City for another round of 14-day quarantine programme.

According to the DFA, a total of 538 Filipino crew and passengers were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, of which 80 tested positive for Covid-19 and have been admitted to Japanese hospitals.

Of the 80 infected Filipinos, the DOH said 10 have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

None of these 80 positive cases, however, were included in the Philippine government's repatriation programme for now.

The cruise ship has been quarantined at the Yokohama port in Japan since Feb 5, after one of its passengers tested positive for Covid-19.

The ship, with more than 3,500 passengers and crew members, docked at the port for more than two weeks before its passengers and crew members were allowed to disembark.

The group is the second batch of repatriates that the DFA brought home following the first batch of 30 repatriates from Wuhan in central China that finished their 14-day quarantine at New Clark City last Saturday.

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