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DFA securing clearances, permits for disembarkation of Pinoys from Diamond Princess

DFA securing clearances, permits for disembarkation of Pinoys from Diamond Princess

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is coordinating with Japanese authorities regarding the repatriation of Filipinos onboard the COVID-19-hit MV Diamond Princess.

"Repatriation preparations...include securing clearances and permits for the disembarkation, land transfer, as well as the arrangements for the chartered flights," the DFA said.

The Philippine government is also working with the Japan Self Defense Forces in arranging for the land transfer of the repatriates from Yokohama Port to Haneda where the chartered flight will take off.

It is also coordinating with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to ensure the completion of the laboratory testing of all the Filipinos onboard the ship in compliance with the established Japanese quarantine protocols in time for the repatriation date.

The Department of Health announced on Saturday the repatriation of the Filipinos, supposed to be done on Sunday, will be postponed "to allow Japanese health authorities to complete the laboratory testing of the 400-plus Filipino crew members aboard the ship and comply with the established protocols."

Over 400 Filipino crew members and passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan will return home in the coming week, the DFA said Saturday.

This will be the largest number of Filipinos to be repatriated by the Philippine government from a COVID-19-affected area.

The first batch were 30 Filipinos from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the virus — who finished their 14-day quarantine at New Clark City on Saturday.

In a statement, the DFA said the Filipinos from the cruise ship will to be temporarily housed at the Athletes' Village in New Clark City under the full medical attention of health professionals from the DOH.

The MV Diamond Princess has the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside of China.

Upon their return to Manila, a team of health professionals from the DOH will provide immediate medical assistance if needed, the DFA said.

They will also be provided with food, medicine, masks, and other supplies.

A total of 49 Filipinos have tested positive for COVID-19, and two have already been discharged from the hospital. Five more are waiting to be discharged in the coming week, the DFA said.