441 from cruise ship end Tarlac quarantine
CAPAS, Tarlac, Philippines — After their 14-day quarantine at the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City (NCC) here, all, except three, of the 444 Filipino repatriates from a virus-stricken cruise ship in the United States were allowed to return home on Monday, said Capas Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan.
The three had developed symptoms of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while on quarantine and were brought to a center in Mariveles town, Bataan province, last week, Catacutan said.
The repatriates belonged to the third batch of Filipinos to be quarantined at NCC and were part of crew members and six passengers of the MV Grand Princess that had been stranded in Oakland, California. They arrived on a chartered flight at the Clark Air Base Haribon Hangar on March 16.
Catacutan led a sendoff ceremony for those quarantined outside the Athletes’ Village. Some of them boarded buses provided by the local government, while others were fetched by their relatives.
Edgar Guevarra, head of Tarlac’s public order and safety management office, said the repatriates would be monitored by their local government units and health teams to ensure their wellness.
For Tarlac front-liners
After the third batch of repatriates, the Athletes’ Village will now serve as a quarantine site for the province’s health workers and front-liners battling COVID-19, said Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap.
She said the province had not received information that the place would be used for another batch of Filipino repatriates.
In Bataan, Dr. Lourdes Evangelista, chief of Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital (MMWGH), said the three repatriates from the third batch had suffered from mild to moderate COVID-19 infection. They were placed under strict protocol guidelines to prevent transmission of the virus, she said.
Mariveles Mayor Jocelyn Castañeda on Monday denied reports that some MMWGH personnel were harassed by villagers who objected to the transfer of the COVID-19 patients from Tarlac.
But Castañeda said the move caused panic among officials and residents of Barangay Poblacion where MMWGH is located. “We were not informed about the quarantine of the COVID-19 patients at the MMWGH,” she said.
—MARIA ADELAIDA CALAYAG and GREG REFRACCION
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