Around 500 Filipinos on board coronavirus-hit cruise ship to return to PH on Sunday

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Filipinos aboard the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan are set to return to the country on Sunday, the Health Department said.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20)— Filipinos on board the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan are set to return to the country on Sunday, the Health Department said.

In a media briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said around 500 Filipinos are expected to be evacuated this weekend. There are seven passengers and 531 crew members in the virus-hit vessel.

There are now 44 Filipinos on the cruise ship who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

READ: Diamond Princess cruise passengers disembark after 14-day quarantine ends in Japan

Duque said they will tap medical personnel from various hospitals in Luzon to attend to the Filipinos who will be heading home from the cruise ship. Passengers will also be screened before disembarking the ship and will be staying at the quarantine site in the New Clark City Athletes’ Village.

Magsaysay Maritime Corp., will be shouldering the costs of accommodation, food, and other peripheral items for the evacuees, according to Duque. Magsaysay is the manpower agency that deployed the Filipino crew of the ship.

Duque has yet to provide the exact time and details of the return, pending information from the Foreign Affairs Department.

READ: Filipino on Japan ship recovers, number of remaining coronavirus-infected at 40

According to a report by CNN International, Japan's health ministry confirmed Thursday that two passengers of the cruise ship have died from novel coronavirus. The two individuals are both in their 80s.

READ: Two Diamond Princess passengers die of coronavirus