A total of 444 Filipinos aboard the virus-stricken MV Grand Princess have arrived in the Philippines, the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday, March 16.
The 438 crew members and six passengers underwent health screenings by the United States Department of Health and Human Services before boarding a chartered flight that brought them from San Francisco International Airport to the Clark Airbase in Pampanga past 2 a.m. on Monday.
The group was “safely and immediately transported” on chartered buses to the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City for the 14-day quarantine period under the Department of Health’s supervision, according to the DFA.
The department added that 78 Filipino crew members volunteered to remain on board the MV Grand Princess to be part of the essential manning of the ship, while 13 Filipino crew members stayed in the U.S. after they tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). They were brought to a care facility for treatment.
The DFA said this is the third batch of repatriates that it brought home from COVID-19 affected areas.
The first repatriated batch was the Filipinos from the Chinese central city of Wuhan, the second batch was the Filipinos on board the virus-struck MV Diamond Princess in Japan.
The Grand Princess and Diamond Princess were both operated by Princess Cruises, which announced Thursday, March 12, that it will suspend all operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days.
The Grand Princess repatriation was coordinated and facilitated by the DFA through the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, the Carnival Corporation, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions, and the California Governor’s Office.