Cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus continue to spike, the Philippine's Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that they have quarantine a total of 80 Filipinos who are potentially infected of the deadly disease, Tuesday.
According to CNN Philippines, the 80 Filipinos are among the 763 people who tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Diamond Princess which is anchored in Yokohama, Japan. The cruise ship was once the biggest hotspot for the disease outside China before repatriation began.
Philippine DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay said that there are already 10 out of the 80 Filipinos that have been discharged with clean bill of health.
He also added that the Filipino crew members who are scheduled to return to the Philippines on February 25 all tested negative for the virus.
The Philippine government has two chartered planes bound to Japan already left Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila to recover more than 400 Filipinos who were stranded in the COVID-19 stricken ship.
CNN Philippines further reports that the first flight with 311 Filipinos on board just arrived at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga at around 9 PM. The second batch of evacuated Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship will arrive before midnight with 142 Filipinos boarded on another Philippine Airlines aircraft.
A total of 453 evacuees will return to the country today, wherein most of them are crew members of the Diamond Princess. This does not include the 70 Filipinos who tested positive for coronavirus. Out of the 80 who were infected by COVID-19, 10 already recovered and are given a clean bill of health.
The repatriation was initially set to last week. However, due to an abundance of caution and to safeguard health and safety, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases decided to move the schedule of evacuation, thus, delaying the homecoming of more than 400 Filipinos.
According to a report by Rappler, although the number of expected Filipinos to return home is over 400, the exact number is yet to be known since there would still be a screening process that would include testing and assessment for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.The others who will test positive will stay in Japan for quarantine along with the 80 who have the suspected disease.
On the journey home the Department of Health will conduct regular monitoring on the repatriates and those who will manifest signs of any respiratory illness will be isolated in one area inside the plane. Once they arrive at Clark International Airport they will undergo another layer of screening.
In a statement of the country's DOH, during the 14-day quarantine in Tarlac, 20 medical teams will manage the facility and provide appropriate health services. Patients will also be checked twice a day and food will be provided along with basic provisions.
There are a total of 538 Filipinos who have been quarantined inside the Diamond Princess since it docked in Japan after the dreaded disease joined them while adrift the ocean. The cruise anchored in Japan on February 5, after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the disease.
Meanwhile, the passengers were instructed to stay inside their cabins, but the crew was in majority are Filipino was not isolated since they needed to keep working to keep the ship running. There have been four deaths that have been recorded from people who got sick while aboard the vessel.
Whilst the situation in China is calming, the outbreak is starting to become like a pandemic after more than 2,000 cases and more than 30 deaths have been reported outside mainland China