Manila, Philippines – The Philippine government gave care packages to the 538 Filipinos still quarantined on the Diamond Princess a Japanese cruise ship due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is the initial assistance the Philippine government has implemented the Filipinos on board the cruise ship, stated by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez in conference Feb. 17.

Of the 538 Filipinos on board, at least 27 are affirmed to have COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The first case of COVID-19 in a Filipino has confirmed on board the Diamond Princess.

The cruise ship has been quarantine over a week since February 5 at the port of Yokohama near Tokyo.

For now, Meñez said it is ‘not clear’ to him who is shouldering the medical costs of the infected Filipinos.

But he gave an assurance that the Philippine government would shoulder the expenses if the need arises.

I would assume that in the initial case, it would be the Japanese government. But the employer as well will have some responsibility for paying for the medical expenses,” Meñez said.

“But if in the concluding report, the government requires to pay, the government will step up respectively,” Meñez added.

The technical group of the Inter Agency Task Force / (IATF) managing the 2019-nCoV threat is set to achieve it’s recommended acknowledgement to the quarantined cruise ship on Monday afternoon.

The members will then present their proposals during the high-level IATF meeting scheduled on February 18.

As of noon on Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) has examined 521 patients in the Philippines.

171 patients are still admitted in several health facilities, while 350 have already been released.

The Philippines has so far recorded 3 verified cases of COVID-19.

The 1 of them died, however, the other two recovered and have since been discharged from the hospital.

As of Monday, the virus has killed at least 1,765 including infected 70,400 people in China.

Cases have been documented in more than two dozen nations.