DOH: 12 coronavirus-hit Filipino seafarers from Indonesia 'closely monitored'

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday, July 20, that local health authorities were closely monitoring the 12 Filipino seafarers from Indonesia who tested positive for COVID-19, including one who snuck off the boat.

In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the vessel is currently docked in Albay. The 12 positive cases were among 20 crew members of the vessel.

"They are now isolated in their vessel. Binabantayan na po sila ng Philippine Coast Guard. Walang mag di-disembark at walang papasok sa vessel kung hindi sila ang kailangan natin para mag monitor," Vergeire said.

(They are now isolated in their vessel. They are being monitored by the Philippine Coast Guard. No one will disembark and no one will enter the vessel if they are not part of the team who will monitor the cases.)

According to an Inquirer report, local health authorities had said the crew went through mandatory COVID-19 testing when their vessels, M/V Tug Clyde and Barge Claudia, arrived from Indonesia in the port of Butuan City on July 14. The vessels were allowed to leave Butuan even before their results came out. They only learned they tested positive for the virus when they were on their way to Albay.

"[The] 12 were given advice and they were given clearance to travel to Albay para doon sila mag dock, at kasamaang palad may isa pong nakalabas ng vessel at nakauwi sa kanilang lugar (so they could dock there, and unfortunately, one was able to sneak off the vessel and returned to his hometown)," Vergeire said.

The health spokesperson said local health authorities were able to locate the positive case who snuck off the vessel in his hometown in Butuan. He along with his close contacts, are now under quarantine.

"He is now isolated at 'yung kanya pong close contacts, kasama 'yung driver ng public transport, 'yung isang helper, at ang kaniyang pamilya ay naka quarantine na po," Vergeire said.

(He is now isolated, as well as his close contacts – the driver of the public transport, the helper, and his family members.)

The DOH has collected 5 samples from the 11 COVID-19 patients aboard the vessels. These were sent to the Philippine Genome Center for genome sequencing to check the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The point of origin of the vessels were from Indonesia, which is suffering one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world driven by the Delta variant. The highly-transmissible variant of COVID-19 has already crippled Indonesia's healthcare system. 

The Philippines, which is still recovering from a surge in COVID-19 infections in April, has reported 35 cases of the Delta variant. Of these, eight are active cases while three have died. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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