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11 Filipino tugboat crew from China quarantined in Dumaguete

11 Filipino tugboat crew from China quarantined in Dumaguete
Mary Judaline Partlow February 5, 2020

DUMAGUETE CITY – A total of 11 Filipino crewmembers of a tugboat that arrived from China on Tuesday night were quarantined inside the vessel off the coast here amid the threat of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The tugboat is one of three vessels that were purchased by a Makati City-based firm and are now in the province for conversion from foreign to domestic flag.

A Notice of Arrival sent to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Sub-port Office showed that Industry Movers Corp. imported the vessels which are scheduled for delivery to Albuera, Leyte, but came to Dumaguete to process the necessary Customs duties and taxes and other requirements, said local Customs Collector Fe Lluelyn Ganir Toring.

Toring, in an interview on Wednesday, said the crewmembers of the tugboat, all Filipinos, are still not allowed to disembark in the absence of a clearance from the Department of Health (DOH).

She said the two cargo ships do not have any people on board.

Toring met with officials from line agencies to ensure the implementation of safe, secure, and proper boarding procedures of the three ships amid the nCoV scare.

She said the tugboat crewmembers need to pass through screening to ensure that they do not exhibit flu-like symptoms considering that they had departed the port of Taizhou in China last January 22.

Considering that the quarantine period for the novel coronavirus (2019 n-CoV) is 14 days starting from Jan. 22 when the vessels left China, the crew members are not allowed to disembark from the tugboat pending the DOH clearance, she added.

Dr. Jerry Go, Quarantine Medical Officer from the DOH-Region 7, will screen test the crewmembers.

He will be assisted by Provincial Health Office and City Health Office representatives.

During their meeting, it was agreed that health authorities would board the tugboat first and screen the crew using equipment such as a thermal gun.

The BOC personnel would follow later, and board the two other empty vessels as well, as part of their mandate, Toring said.

As for provisions of the crewmembers while under quarantine, an agent of the importer who attended the meeting said they have made arrangements to send enough food and water to the Filipinos on board the tugboat until they have been cleared for disembarkation.

Also during the meeting, a Unified Incident Command (UIC) was immediately established with Toring as “responsible officer”, Go as incident commander, and Dr. Ma. Sarah Talla, City Health Office chief, as deputy incident commander.

Lawyer Jennlyn Arinasa of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) was designated as spokesperson.

Members of the UIC include the BOC, PPA, DOH, Provincial Health Office, City Health Office, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Immigration, Maritime Police, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Bureau of Plant Industry, among others. (PNA)