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Filipinos from virus-hit cruise ship arrive home

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MANILA (Philippine Star/ Agence France-Presse) — A total of 445 Filipinos from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship moored off the Japanese coast arrived in the Philippines Tuesday night.

The first repatriation flight —carrying 309 crew members of Diamond Princess, two members of the Department of Foreign Affairs repatriation team and four members of the Department of Health response team — arrived at Clark, Pampanga province, north of Manila at 10:10 p.m. Tuesday

The second batch of repatriates — including 136 passengers in addition to two members of the DFA team and five members from the DOH team — landed at around 12:12 a.m. Wednesday.

“After landing, all repatriates, as well as the DFA and DOH repatriation team members, and Philippine Airlines flight crew were brought to the Athletes Village in New Clark City, Tarlac province for the 14-day quarantine program of the DOH,” the DFA said in a statement.

Staff members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Health wear protective suits as they assist Filipinos from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship who arrived at the Clark airbase, Pampanga, north of Manila, early Wednesday.  AP

A total of 538 Filipino crew members and passengers were aboard the Japanese cruise ship, 80 of which have tested positive for Covid-19 and have been admitted to Japanese hospitals.

The homecoming date of over 400 Filipinos was initially set last week but the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease decided to move the schedule of evacuation “out of an abundance of caution with a view of safeguarding the health and safety” of overseas Filipinos on board the vessel.

Diamond Princess was quarantined on February 5 after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the potentially deadly disease. While passengers were confined to their cabins, many crew members were not isolated because they were needed to keep the ship running.

Four people have so far died after becoming sick on the vessel.

The situation in virus epicenter China appeared to be calming but the situation is worsening in other nations with more than 2,000 cases and 30 deaths reported abroad.

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