Health Department to quarantine at least 500 Filipinos from Diamond Princess at New Clark City

Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan’s Yokohama. Photo: Princess Cruises/Facebook
Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan’s Yokohama. Photo: Princess Cruises/Facebook

The Department of Health announced yesterday that the passengers from the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess will be quarantined for another 14 days at New Clark City (NCC) in Tarlac, even if they have already tested negative for the disease during their stay on the ship.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a press conference yesterday that the group of at least 500 people will arrive in the Philippines on Sunday aboard two planes that will land at Clark Air Base in Pampanga. After completing immigration procedures, they will be transferred to NCC, located about two-hours away, onboard several buses, the Philippine Star reports.

Each patient will be given a room of his or her own, except for families, who will be quarantined in one room.

Read: (UPDATED) Health Department bracing for return of Filipinos aboard virus-hit cruise ship, one patient recovers

“The [original] date [of arrival was] Feb. 25, [but] it will be advanced to Feb. 23. That’s on a Sunday,” Duque said. He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs is coordinating the repatriation of the 500 Filipinos with their Japanese counterparts.

Those to be quarantined at NCC are Filipinos who did not exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus during their 14-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess, which has been docked at the Port of Yokohama. A total of 41 Filipinos on board the ship were diagnosed with COVID-19, one of whom has since recovered, while the rest are still being treated in Japan. Duque said despite that person’s recovery, he will still be quarantined for another two weeks at the NCC, Rappler reports.

“Oh yes, he will also be quarantined. Because number one, we don’t know much about the virus. We don’t know if there’s going to be immunity or if there’s going to be re-infection,” Duque said.

The local government of Capas, the town where the NCC is located, initially opposed the idea of using the athlete’s village there as a quarantine, but the decision of the national government prevailed. Earlier this month the management of the NCC, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, said that other batches of repatriated Filipinos should be quarantined at another facility, though they appear to since backed down.

The first Diamond Princess 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. 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 in Yokohama.

The quarantine ended yesterday with at least 621 or more than 3,000 passengers infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus.


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