SAN FRANCISCO — After a week of being stranded inside the Grand Princess cruise ship due to reported cases of coronavirus, it was time to go back to the Philippines for most of its Filipino crew members.
According to the Philippine Consulate of San Francisco — a total of 444 Filipinos, 438 crew members and six guests, were repatriated on Saturday.
Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. was on hand to oversee the disembarkation of the Filipinos who went through screenings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before they boarded buses to the airport.
The first to disembark from the port of Oakland were 19 crew members, 13 of whom are Filipino, and two passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.
They were brought to a care facility in San Mateo County for appropriate medical attention.
California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis approved the Philippine consulate’s request to allow the Filipinos who tested positive for the virus to disembark and be given medical treatment in an inland facility.
“I think by now you know what the reason is why we’re pushing for that and why we pushed hard for that. It was because of the experience that we saw in terms of Diamond Princess in Yokohama, that when you put those with the virus with the healthy ones, it was a recipe for disaster.”
Congen Bensurto also commended the Filipino crew members and passengers for their resiliency during the entire process.
“They were very cooperative and they represented the best of what a Filipino is in terms of their bayanihan, in terms of their spirit despite the situation. Their cheerfulness and their ability to overcome difficulties, we noticed that.”
According to the Philippine department of foreign affairs — upon arrival, the repatriates are scheduled for a 14-day quarantine period at the athlete’s village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
Meanwhile — 91 Filipino crewmembers volunteered to remain onboard the ship to comprise the minimum operational manning teams.
According to the DFA — the crew members arrived at Clark Air Base in Pampanga around 2 AM on Sunday, March 15th.