Locsin orders immediate repatriation of Filipinos on quarantined cruise ship in Japan
Robie de Guzman • February 19, 2020 • 369
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 could declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus situation in the Japanese capital deteriorates further, its governor warned on Friday (July 31).
Yuriko Koike said Tokyo had confirmed 463 new cases on Friday – another single-day record – and implored residents to follow health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.
“If the situation worsens, Tokyo would have to think about issuing its own state of emergency,” Koike told a news conference.
The Japanese government lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May after Japan appeared to have contained the outbreak, touting its mask-wearing habits and health system as some of the factors that helped it fare better than Europe and the United States.
But the virus has made a worrying resurgence. The number of daily new cases in Japan hit a new record on Thursday (July 30), with infections spreading rapidly not only in Tokyo but also in other regions. (Reuters)
“This unresolved territorial dispute, as you correctly said has been dormant […] It has not affected our friendly bilateral relations and we will definitely maintain this friendly bilateral relations despite and in spite of this unresolved dispute,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
Japan has indicated that the current coronavirus situation in the country does not require a return of a state of emergency, according to the government’s top spokesman on Thursday (July 30).
Asked about the record number of cases from a day earlier exceeding 1,000 for the first time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeated that the current situation did not warrant a state of emergency, which would restrict economic activity.
“On the other hand, there has been a rise in the number of cases, including among older people,” he told a news conference. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
According to public broadcaster NHK, Japan saw a record increase of 1,264 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (July 29) alone.
The Nikkei business daily reported Thursday that Tokyo plans to urge shorter operating hours for restaurants and karaoke parlors in August to deal with the recent spike in infections. (Reuters)
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