By Betheena Unite
Frontliners of the Philippine Coast Guard were urged to protect themselves from being infected to deter any possible spread of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the country as they carry out their duties in sea ports.
Coast Guard commandant Admiral Joel Garcia told all port state control officers to protect themselves while they strictly implement guidelines and preventive measures against the disease.
They were told to follow guidelines and measures in consonance with the safety protocols issued by the Bureau of Quarantine that are intended to protect individuals who are performing port state control functions, including vessel boarding procedures.
The Coast Guard frontliners were told to avoid close contact with ships’ crews, and to always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, latex gloves, and boots, especially if close contact with any of the ships’ crews cannot be avoided.
They were reminded to properly and immediately dispose of PPE after usage to avoid possible contaminations, maintain clean hands and use hand sanitizers at all times, and ensure the availability and placement of hand sanitizers in all stations.
In case any of the ships’ crews is found to have developed signs or symptoms of flu or pneumonia during the boarding procedure, they are enjoined to report it immediately.
The commandant also ordered that ships’ crews be advised to limit or avoid unnecessary movement outside the vessel, wear PPE if required when disembarking at Philippine shores, and ensure that ships’ crews follow the guidelines in handling vessels’ waste disposal.
These guidelines and preventive measures shall be followed before and after boarding a suspected vessel that came from any country with reported cases of nCoV infection, based on their port of origin or last port call for the last 14 days, Garcia said.