ABOUT 500 Filipinos from the US and Dubai have come home amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has sickened 1.78 million and killed almost 109,000 people worldwide, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

The agency said 208 seafarers of MS Norwegian Jade arrived on Saturday evening at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while 290 crew men from Oceania and Norwegian Cruises arrived on Sunday morning.

This brings the total number of repatriates to 11,903 out of DFA’s 20,000 target beneficiaries.

“The DFA and its partners will continue to bring home distressed land- and sea-based overseas Filipino workers affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic well beyond the Holy Week,” it said in a statement at the weekend.

The Filipinos were subjected to the mandatory inspection of the Bureau of Quarantine upon arrival and will undergo a 14-day home quarantine.

The return of the 208 crewmen from Dubai was facilitated by the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi in coordination with Norwegian Cruise Lines and local manning agency CF Sharp, it said.

This followed the arrival of 246 seafarers from the United Kingdom on Saturday afternoon and almost 1,500 other seafarers from the US, United Kingdom, Germany and Portugal on Friday.

DFA said it was monitoring 379 Filipinos overseas who were being treated for COVID-19. A total of 188 Filipino patients have recovered and 84 died, it added.

The Tourism department earlier said about 11,000 hotel rooms in and outside Metro Manila would be used to house the repatriates for the mandatory 14-day self quarantine. — Charmaine A. Tadalan