By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) said Filipinos who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, are set to go home on Saturday (Feb. 22) after they complete the 14-day mandatory quarantine period at the Athletes’ Village of New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the 32 repatriates, as well as the 17 members of the repatriation team, did not show any signs or symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during their quarantine period.
“All the quarantined individuals have not shown signs and symptoms of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay. They will now be allowed to go back to their respective homes and places,” Vergeire said in a press briefing Friday.
“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies. We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” she added.
M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship repatriation
Vergeire also said around 460 to 480 Filipinos aboard the M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship have already requested assistance to return to the Philippines.
Individuals who will be repatriated from the cruise ship will undergo the same protocols as those repatriated from Wuhan, China, Vergeire said.
“Kailangan po lahat ng ating repatriates ay negative for COVID-19 (before they board the plane). They are now conducting this test for all of these crew members and the additional passengers that would be included,” the health official said.
“This will be two carriers, three hours apart. Meron tayong medical teams sa loob ng eroplano (We have medical teams inside the plane) and our crew and medical teams are going to wear hazmats [for their own protection].
“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Vergeire added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said last Thursday that the repatriation of Filipinos on board the M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship will take place on Sunday (Feb. 23). They will also be quarantined at the Athletes’ Village of New Clark City.
“The Japanese government has already decided that they will close down the ship. We are getting this information from [DFA] Usec. [Brigido] Dulay. But we really have to bring them out as soon as possible,” he said at the time.