163 Filipino crew of stranded cruise ship in Norway all safe: DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2019   •   1930

Helicopters hover above the Viking Sky cruise ship as passengers are airlifted from the vessel that was stranded off Norway. | Courtesy: CHC Helicopter through Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to closely monitor the rescue operations for the passengers of a cruise ship that was stranded off the coast of Norway.

In a statement on Sunday (March 24), the DFA said all 163 Filipino crew members of the cruise ship, Viking Sky, are safe and are helping in the evacuation of passengers

“The Philippine Embassy in Oslo, which is in touch with Viking Cruises and the Norwegian Rescue Center, reported that the ship’s 163 Filipino crew members are all safe and are helping evacuate passengers,” the DFA added.

Passengers also praised the efficiency and helpfulness of the ship’s Filipino crew in the evacuation, the Philippine Embassy in Norway said.

On Saturday, the Viking Sky sent a distress signal off the coast of Norway after it encountered engine problems in rough seas that caused it to drift toward the rocky shore.   

479 people, mostly senior citizens, were airlifted by Rescue Services. Some 20 passengers had been taken to hospital while others only suffered minor injuries, the Viking Cruise ship management said.

There were 1,373 passengers aboard the luxury ship the but none were Filipinos, the DFA said.

Report from Norwegian authorities said the luxury ship had restarted and is now moving at a slow pace. Tug boats are currently trying to move the Viking Sky to shore as three of the cruise ship’s four engines working. – Robie de Guzman

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.

DFA reports no new cases of COVID-19 among Filipinos abroad

Maris Federez   •   May 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign affairs on Sunday (May 10) shared on Twitter some good news amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

On its twitter post, the DFA said it has not recorded any new case of the deadly pandemic among Filipinos abroad.

“Today, for the first time since the DFA began issuing estimates of COVID affected nationals abroad, there are no new confirmed cases and fatalities due to COVID-19 reported by our foreign service posts,” the post said.

“While it could be that this is just a result of weekend dips in reporting, it is still worth taking note. Just as significant, the only reports that came in were of two Filipino patients who recovered in 2 different countries in Europe,” it added.

The department also reported via Twitter that the country now has 24 certified laboratories/facilities for COVID-19 testing.

“For the information of all OFWs and their families, there are now 24 government- certified laboratories/ facilities for COVID-19 testing as of 9 May 2020. The newest addition to the certified laboratories is the De La Salle University – Cavite in Region IV-A,” the post read.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country is now at 10,794.

As of 4 PM on Sunday, the DOH reported 184 new cases (PH10611-PH10794) coming from the NCR with additional 77 new cases, Region 7 with an additional 75, and 32 new additional cases from different regions.  

The health department also announced that another 82 patients have already recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,924. — /mbmf

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