Locsin orders immediate repatriation of Filipinos on quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020   •   306

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the immediate repatriation of Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Locsin announced he has ordered the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan to repatriate Filipinos on the ship after its passengers who tested negative for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were allowed to disembark after the 14-day quarantine period.

“I have ordered our Tokyo Embassy to immediately repatriate our people in the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohoma Japan. It’s our duty to take care of our Overseas Filipinos wherever they are. I want them home now!” he said.

As of Wednesday, February 19, 41 Filipino crew members of the ship were found positive for COVID-19. Like other people on the ship confirmed to be infected with the virus, the Filipinos were brought to hospitals in Japan to undergo treatment.

The DFA earlier said there are 531 Filipino crew members and seven passengers aboard the quarantined cruise ship. Around 400 of them have expressed their desire to be repatriated to the Philippines.

The department said they have been coordinating with Japanese authorities and the operator of the vessel to ensure that everything would be smooth once the repatriation process begins.

Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

295 Filipinos repatriated from Cayman Islands, London arrive in PH – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 295 Filipino workers and their families repatriated from the Cayman Islands and London have arrived in the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement issued Monday, the DFA said this batch of repatriates is composed of 287 Filipinos from Grand Cayman and eight stranded in London.

They landed on Monday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) onboard an “airbridge” flight organized by the local government of the Cayman Islands.

The DFA said the Cayman Islands, which is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, mounted the “airbridge” flight to provide an opportunity for foreign contract workers to return to their home countries amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The department added that it was made possible with the cooperation of the Office of the Governor of the Cayman Islands Government and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Washington D.C.

“The Manila airbridge flight is but a demonstration of the close Philippine-UK bilateral ties,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said.

Arriola assured that the Philippine Government will continue to work closely with other governments and organizations to mount similar repatriation flights to bring home Filipinos who are in distress as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Upon arrival at NAIA, the  DFA said the repatriates underwent thorough documentation and briefing on current safety protocols prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as well as RT-PCR COVID-19 testing.

“They will be temporarily housed at Bureau of Quarantine-approved facilities for their mandatory quarantine while they await the result of their RT-PCR test,” it said.

Over 230 Filipino sailors from Germany arrive in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Over 200 Filipino sailors repatriated from Germany have arrived in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the DFA said a total of 239 Filipino seafarers have been repatriated on May 11, with the help of the Philippine Consulate in Frankfurt.

The latest batch of repatriates was composed of 188 crew of AIDAblu, and 51 of AIDAmar who signed off while their ships were docked at the German Port of Hamburg.

The DFA said it facilitated the arrival of the sailors from Germany while the shipping company, AIDA Cruises, chartered the Condor flight to bring the repatriates home.

The department said the repatriation was organized amidst the cap imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases on the daily number of arriving overseas Filipino workers in order to manage the existing quarantine protocols and to ensure that OFWs are adequately attended to upon their arrival.

The Philippine government has been repatriating Filipino workers from abroad amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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