Some 444 Filipinos—438 crew members and 6 passengers— from the MV Grand Princess came back home to the Philippines on Monday, accompanied by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), onboard a chartered flight from San Francisco International Airport.
The repatriation of the Filipinos was coordinated and facilitated by the DFA through the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in coordination with the Carnival Corporation, the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, and the California Governor’s Office.
According to the DFA, Philippine Consul General in San Franciso Henry Bensurto, Jr. and his team monitored preparations for disembarkation at Oakland Port which started around noon of March 14 (Pacific Time).
Upon disembarkation from the ship, the repatriates all underwent health screening by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which included thermal scanning and other diagnostics to test if they had symptoms of COVID-19.
As a matter of protocol, only those who were asymptomatic were allowed to board the buses that transferred them to San Francisco International Airport. The plane left the airport at around 9:00 p.m. on March 14 (Pacific Time).
The repatriates were received by the team from DFA Home Office in Manila at the Haribon Hangar in Clark Airbase, Pampanga, at around 2:15 a.m. on March 16.
After landing, all repatriates were safely and immediately transported on chartered buses to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City for the 14-day quarantine period under the full medical attention of health professionals from the Department of Health (DOH).
A total of 78 Filipino crew members volunteered to remain onboard to be part of the essential manning of the ship.
Meanwhile, the 13 Filipino crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 stayed in the US and were brought to a care facility for treatment.
The other three Filipino guests disembarked and stayed in the US as they are California residents.
The group is the third batch of repatriates that the DFA brought home from COVID-19 affected areas.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the repatriates would be restricted at the New Athletes Village before they would be allowed to go to their respective homes and places.
During their stay in the quarantine facility, health professionals from the DOH will monitor their health conditions.
Based on the protocol of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, the DOH shall provide health human resources and their transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.
They will also undergo the same protocol applied to the first and second batches of repatriates—the 30 Filipinos from Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and the more than 400 Filipinos from MV Diamond Princess from Yokohama, Japan./Stacy Ang