MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo "to immediately repatriate" Filipinos aboard Diamond Princess off Japan's coast after the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship completed a 2-week quarantine.
"It’s our duty to take care [of] our Overseas Filipinos wherever they are. I want them home now!" he wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.
Some 41 out of 500 Filipinos aboard the ship contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DOH) said.
All of those who tested positive are crew members of the Carnival Corp-operated cruise liner. They were confined in hospitals in Japan and were responding well to the treatment, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had said.
The repatriates will have to undergo another 14-day quarantine in the Philippines, said Health Assistant Secretary for Public Health Services Maria Rosario Vergeire.
The ship was kept in quarantine since Feb. 3 after a passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong, was found to be infected with the virus.
When the quarantine came to an end on Wednesday, more than 500 people were confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Earlier this month, the Philippine government repatriated 30 Filipinos from Wuhan.
They are currently staying at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac for a 2-week quarantine, the incubation period of the virus.
The fast-spreading disease has killed more than 2,000 people and infected more than 74,000 others in China as of Wednesday.
- With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News