OVER 4,000 Filipinos are set to arrive home in the next three weeks as cruise lines bear the brunt coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
"4000+ repatriated Filipino crew to arrive in the next three weeks. 530 from Costa (Favolosa) and Costa Magica arrive tomorrow," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said Saturday in a tweet.
He, however, noted concerns on the scheduled repatriation with the need to quarantine the arriving Filipinos and the number of available facilities to accommodate them.
In a series of tweets, Locsin said "while DOT (Department of Tourism) has a list of accommodations, the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) must approve the items in the list; however, OWWA says it cannot approve the DOT list unless the DOH first approves the list.
The DOH says that the rooms must qualify as individual isolation wards with room service so there is no mingling just in case some are Covid."
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez said the New Clark City "still has the Grand Princess crew" who are currently under quarantine after their arrival in the Philippines on March 16.
"There is a selection and clearing process that is overseen by the DOH (Department of Health) in coordination with the manning agency. There are several considerations taken into account," he noted.
Meanwhile, the DOT said it will assist the OWWA in finding accommodations for repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), citing that "distressed OFWs" is qualified to be billeted by hotels and similar establishments operating during the enhanced community quarantine.
The said establishments, however, must abide by the conditions for room occupancy, as coordinated with the DOH and approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which directs that "OFWs and Health Workers shall be accommodated in single occupancy rooms. Only one person shall be accommodated in each room".
Meanwhile, three hundred seventy Filipino crew members from three cruise ships docked in Italy arrived home Saturday evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.
The group of repatriates is composed of 248 Filipinos from MV Costa Luminosa from Milan, and a combined number of 122 Filipinos from MV Grandiosa and MV Opera docked in Rome.
With the challenges brought about by the global freeze on international travels, the chartered flight for the said mass repatriation was made possible through the efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Rome, the Philippine Consulate General in Milan, and the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs.
The DFA likewise worked closely with the Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment and the Office and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the local manning agencies in the Philippines for the seamless repatriation of the Filipino crew.
Representatives of the said agencies joined in welcoming the repatriates in Manila.
All the 370 Filipinos underwent medical check-up and were found to be asymptomatic before they boarded the chartered airline that brought them to Manila.
They will also undergo a mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine supervised by the Bureau of Quarantine.