Hundreds of stranded French tourists return home from Philippines


Posted at Mar 25 2020 11:02 PM

MANILA - Hundreds of French tourists stranded in the Philippines were able to return home after their government arranged special flights for them on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a statement, the French Embassy in Manila said that 406 of their citizens stranded in Manila and Cebu were able to join the special flights.

The embassy thanked Filipino authorities "for the active and constant support that they extended in the organization of this flight and in the success of this operation."

It also thanked Qatar Airways for providing them the special flights.

The embassy said it will continue its efforts "to ensure that tourists from France and from other European countries may be able to return to their respective countries at the soonest possible time."

Tourists were stranded after countries worldwide imposed lockdowns and mass quarantines due to the fast spreading coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has sent governments and citizens around the globe reeling since its emergence in China in late 2019.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said other countries will have flights to the Philippines to fetch their stranded citizens amid the "enhanced community quarantine" in Luzon.

“Foreign governments sending flights to pick up stranded nationals, DFA making sure no hitches. But if they miss the flights we lifted ban on travel to get (out) of our country," Locsin tweeted.

Locsin added foreigners who want to stay during the quarantine are welcome, and shouldn't worry about visa extension.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has confirmed 636 COVID-19 cases, including 38 deaths and 26 recoveries.