Four of seven repatriates tested negative for COVID-19

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An official  of the Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said four out of the seven symptomatic repatriates from cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan, now in quarantine at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac province,  have tested negative for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Four of them were negative for the virus,” said DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Vergeire said the four repatriates who tested negative for COVID-19 are still admitted at referral hospitals.

“Their condition is still being managed. But once there are no more symptoms,  they will be brought back to their rooms in New Clark City,” Vergeire said, adding that repatriates have to finish their 14-day quarantine period that started last week.

She said the DOH is still waiting for the results of tests done on samples taken from the remaining three Filipino repatriates who are also experiencing respiratory symptoms.  Their specimens are being tested by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

“While we are still waiting for the other test results, we assure the public that our referral hospitals are well-equipped and prepared to handle COVID-19 cases once they arise,” said Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.

Duque said that a health response team at the quarantine facility is being extra cautious to prevent further health risks.

According to Vergeire, seven Filipinos  who experienced respiratory symptoms are considered patients under investigation (PUI). She said they were transferred to referral hospitals.

The health official said the Philippines has currently 31 PUIs  for  COVID-19 who were admitted to hospitals nationwide.

All 445 repatriates from the cruise ship docked in Yokohama, together with members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and DOH teams and the Philippine Airlines crew on both repatriation flights, were brought to New Clark City  for their 14-day quarantine period upon their arrival from Japan last week.

Vegeire said  physical health is being monitored twice a day.  She also said psychosocial support teams are providing counseling to the repatriates.

“We will make sure that they are physically and mentally healthy,” Vergeire said, adding that when a repatriate from Wuhan, China previously showed anxiety during the quarantine period at NCC, the person was brought to a referral hospital to get treatment.

Vergeire said that the mayor of Capas, Tarlac has been included in the inter-agency task force as an ex-officio member to involve the local government in discussions regarding the quarantine on repatriates at New Clark City.

Meanwhile, Duque said that while the country  is observing a steady decrease in the number of PUIs admitted in the health facilities, the DOH is bent on sustaining this downward trend.

“While there is a looming prospect of positive COVID-19 cases among our repatriated kababayans, we call on everyone to continue to be vigilant partners of DOH in keeping the threat of COVID-19 at bay,” he  said.

Even as COVID-19 continuously affects the Filipinos overseas, he guaranteed that the Philippine government remains at their service.

Duque also said the government would devotedly extend assistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the , COVID-19 has spread in 38 countries outside of China, but has observed a decline in the number of additional cases globally.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus particularly noted that nine countries, including the Philippines, reported no new cases of COVID-19 for more than two weeks.

“While the DOH welcomes this positive development, we cannot be complacent. We must remain steadfast in watching out for the health of the Filipino people, particularly our repatriates in NCC,”  Duque added./ Stacy Ang

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