THE number of Filipinos aboard a cruise ship who tested positive for the new coronavirus strain has risen to 27, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The number included 16 new cases confirmed on Saturday, all of whom were crew members of the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, the agency said in a statement on Monday.
The virus has killed more than 1,700 people and sickened about 70,000 more, mostly in China, according to country’s National Health Commission.
The Japanese Health Ministry had said all crew and passengers on board would be tested starting yesterday, DFA said. Test results would become available by the time the ship’s quarantine period ends, it added.
The Japanese government announced 70 new confirmed cases on Sunday, which did not include any Filipinos. The quarantine period will end on Feb. 19.
DFA said an inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases was set to meet on Monday to determine the Philippine government’s next action concerning Filipinos aboard the cruise ship.
“Certainly, we will assist all the Filipinos who are currently in Yokohama,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Martin R. Meñez said at a briefing at the presidential palace.
Any moves would be coordinated and would need clearance from the Japanese government, he added.
The cruise ship has about 3,700 passengers and crew members, 538 of whom are Filipinos.
Countries including the United States, Italy and South Korea have moved to repatriate their nationals quarantined in cruise ship.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) said 350 of almost 500 people under investigation for the new coronavirus strain had been discharged.
The agency said 171 people were still confined in hospitals and were being monitored.
DoH said 453 people had tested negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Confirmed cases remained at three, while the test results for 22 more were pending.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III traced the decreasing trend to the agency’s strengthened surveillance, assessment and management interventions.
“Although we see a decreasing trend, the department will not be complacent and will be more vigilant as we brace for the possibility of local transmission in our country,” he said in a statement.
The Philippines imposed a travel ban on foreigners coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Gillian M. Cortez