Crew of vessels from China not allowed to disembark in PH ports

Rappler.com
Crew of vessels from China not allowed to disembark in PH ports
If a vessel came from any port in China and docks in the Philippines, its crew cannot get off. Visitation privileges of relatives of Filipino seafarers are also suspended.

MANILA, Philippines – Crew members of vessels that departed from China will not be allowed to disembark while docked at any port controlled by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), as the country combats the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“Not only the passengers coming from Chinese territories are barred from disembarking, but we have also disallowed the crews of vessels which recently called in any China port,” said PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago in a statement on Monday, February 3.

The agency also canceled all visitation privileges for relatives of Filipino seafarers and boarding privileges of non-governmental organizations that provide emotional and spiritual help to seafarers.

Santiago said it is a Filipino practice to allow visitation rights for relatives of Filipino seafarers and institutions providing support, but this is being suspended to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Mariners and vessels, including all port stakeholders, were already issued an advisory, according to Santiago, thus the measure is now being implemented.

A special team will be tasked to monitor the movements of personnel and people inside ports. The PPA is also coordinating with the Office for Transportation Security, the Maritime Industry Authority, and agents of ships calling in the Philippines.

Earlier, the PPA started to conduct strict passenger screening, which involves thermal scanning or individual checks if a passenger hits a certain body temperature level. 

Dedicated nCoV Malasakit help desks are also being installed to speed up the processing of reports of suspected cases.

“We recognize the dilemma of our seafarers and the difficulty that they face while at sea, but we also have to guarantee the safety of those offshore. Rest assured that everything will be reinstated when this nCoV ARD (Acute Respiratory Disease) scare is over,” Santiago said.

As of Monday, the virus has killed more than 360 people, all in China, except for a Chinese man in the Philippines. The number of people under observation in the Philippines for possible infection has risen to 80.

On Sunday, February 2, the Philippine government implemented an expanded travel ban to cover those coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macau within the past two weeks. The ban also includes transiting passengers from China and Hong Kong– with reports from Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com

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