Dozens of passengers who were allowed off a coronavirus (COVID-19)-stricken cruise ship have developed symptoms including fever and will be asked to take tests for the virus, Japan’s health minister said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 441 Filipino crew members and four passengers of the Diamond Princess who arrived before dawn in the Philippines will be quarantined for 14 days at the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City in Tarlac.
READ: Pinoys on ship home finally
The Japanese government has contacted 813 former passengers of the Diamond Princess. Around 970 were allowed off the boat last week after testing negative for the virus, but several have subsequently been found to be carrying the disease.
The ministry found “45 people had certain symptoms,” Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament.
“We asked all of them [who have symptoms] to see a doctor and to take tests,” Kato said.
Japan has come under increasing pressure over its handling of the crisis on the vessel, particularly after it emerged that some passengers allowed to disembark after testing negative were subsequently diagnosed with the potentially fatal virus.
READ: Exit from virus ship Tuesday
Those allowed off the ship after a 14-day quarantine were asked to stay inside, but no formal measures restricting their movement were imposed.
As of Wednesday, at least two former passengers in Japan were confirmed infected despite previously testing negative.
Foreign passengers who said they had initially tested negative have also been diagnosed with the virus after being repatriated to Australia and Hong Kong.
Opposition lawmakers have blamed the government for failing to implement a fresh 14-day quarantine after the passengers left the cruise ship.
Countries that repatriated their citizens have required them to undergo another isolation period, suggesting they believe the on-ship quarantine was flawed.
In Manila, Health Assistant Secretary Rosette Vergeire told radio dzMM that none of the repatriates exhibited any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
READ: 30 more Filipinos on ship infected
Eighty Filipinos from the cruise ship had tested positive for the virus. Of these, 70 were still admitted in hospitals in Japan while 10 were discharged and preparing to go back to the Philippines, Vergeire said.
Malacañang on Wednesday thanked Japan for assisting the Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the repatriates were allowed to disembark from the ship after they tested negative for the deadly virus.
READ: Repatriation plan may leave out 52 on cruise ship
Also on Wednesday, an owner of a manpower agency and a consultant on migrant workers affairs said 10,000 Filipino household service workers bound for Hong Kong and Macau are still stranded in Manila even though the travel ban to these Chinese special administrative regions has been lifted because local carriers have not resumed flights to those destinations.
“These workers still have not left for their respective destinations because the tickets they are holding are for local carriers PAL, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia who have not resumed regular flights to those cities,” Emmanuel Geslani said.
He said the local carriers are still discussing the procedural problem of their flight crews who will be on those flights to determine if they will go on quarantine every time they arrive from Hong Kong or Macau.
“Most if not all those 10,000 [household workers] are holding tickets or reservations for PAL and Cebu Pacific as they were purchased by their recruitment agencies before the imposition of the travel ban two weeks ago. Tickets for international carriers like Cathay Pacific and China Airlines or other international carriers using Hong Kong as a stopover are more expensive and the recruitment agencies are reluctant to purchase them,” Geslani said.
A small number of workers have departed for Hong Kong using those international carriers only on the insistence of their employers, who threaten to replace them with workers from other countries.
The workers have already appealed to local carriers to resume their flights to Hong Kong and Macau so that they can go back to work and urged them to abide by the safety measures when they return to the Philippines to prevent the spread of COVID 19. With AFPREAD: COVID-19 deaths exceed 2,000; virus hits 74,000 in 25 nationsREAD: ‘Tourist arrivals down due to COVID-19 outbreak’READ: Nations take drastic steps to rim spread
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