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445 Pinoys from ‘virus’ ship in Japan moved to Athletes’ Village

By ROY C. MABASA

 

 

FILIPINO crew members from the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship board a bus bound for Haneda Airport for the scheduled repatriation flights to Manila via two chartered Philippine Airlines aircrafts. (Photo courtesy of the PH Embassy in Tokyo)

Photo courtesy of the PH Embassy in Tokyo

After spending a tormenting 20-day restriction inside the COVID19-hit Diamond Princess off the port of Yokohama, some 445 Filipino crew members and passengers of the mammoth cruise ship finally made it home and are now under the care of Philippine health authorities.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), one of the key agencies tasked to execute the elaborate repatriation plan, declared the entire operation a “success” shortly after the repatriates were bused to the Athletes’ Village at past midnight of Wednesday.

After landing, all repatriates, as well as the DFA and Department of Health repatriation team members, and PAL flight crew were brought to the Athletes’ Village for the 14-day quarantine program of the DoH.

The DFA said all arrangements upon arrival were handled as agreed in the Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution 07 issued on Feb. 21, 2020.

The trek back to the Philippines started on Tuesday morning after the release of negative laboratory results of tests conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW).

Based on the DFA account, the repatriates were allowed to disembark from the ship and transfer by bus to Haneda airport, an operation strictly overseen by and coordinated with the Japan Self Defense Forces.

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 (DoH) arrived at Clark Airbase at 10:10 p.m. of February 25.

The second flight, with 136 passengers in addition to a two-member DFA team and a five-member team from the DoH, arrived at 12:12 a.m. of February 26.

Both flights were received at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase, Pampanga.

The MV Diamond Princess has a combined total of 538 Filipino crew and passengers of which 80 persons tested positive for COVID-19 and have been admitted to Japanese hospitals.

The cruise ship has put under quarantine in Yokohama port since February 5, after one of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19.

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