Coronavirus-infected Filipinos in Japanese cruise ship Diamond Princess now at 27

Diamond Princess. Photo: Alpsdake/Wikimedia
Diamond Princess. Photo: Alpsdake/Wikimedia

A total of 27 Filipinos on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess have now been infected by the potentially deadly COVID-19 coronavirus, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced today.

The first passenger known to have been infected by the virus was an 80-year-old man who boarded on Jan. 20 in Yokohama and disembarked in Hong Kong five days later, reports the BBC. A few days after he left, on Feb. 4, 10 more passengers tested positive for the virus, leading the Japanese government to put the ship on a 14-day quarantine at the Port of Yokohama.

Since then the number of infections on board the vessel has continued to rise.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy, in Tokyo reports that as of 16 February 2020, the number of Filipinos on board who have tested positive for COVID-19 is at 27. This includes 16 new cases confirmed on Saturday, 15 February,” the DFA said in a statement. In total, there are now 355 people on board the cruise ship who have been infected.

Read: Capas town mayor speaks out against plan to quarantine repatriated OFWs in New Clark City

With the quarantine about to end on Feb. 19, the United States announced yesterday that it will evacuate all Americans from the ship and bring them back to the U.S., where they will undergo another 14-day quarantine. Those who choose not to take the flight to the U.S. will be required to undergo a separate quarantine in Japan before they can go back home, CNN International reports.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Department of Health is currently looking for a place where they can quarantine the ship’s remaining 538 Filipinos, a vast majority of whom belong to the vessel’s crew, after they leave the Diamond Princess.

Secretary Francisco Duque III told radio station DZBB that they are checking if they can be brought to New Clark City (NCC) in Tarlac, where several overseas Filipino workers have been quarantined since they were repatriated from Hubei province, where the coronavirus originated. Duque’s statement comes a week after the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, which manages the NCC, said that other batches of repatriated Filipinos should be quarantined at another facility.

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