By Betheena Unite
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) called on sea travelers to bear with them as port processes are expected to slow down with the implementation of new measures amid the growing cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Fumigation and disinfection of all port terminals under the PPA were carried out Wednesday while new measures on top of the usual thermal scanning of passengers and port personnel in all ports were issued in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission in port terminals.
All its Port Management Offices have been ordered to make available to passengers, port users and other stakeholders necessary disinfecting supply such as anti-bacterial solutions and sanitizers.
“Ports are main gateways and PPA needs to make sure that these remain COVID-19-free. The measures being put into place will definitely slowdown port processes, and we are asking the sea-traveling public for patience and understanding as we are working towards the resolution of this major health concern,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said in a statement.
Fumigation and disinfection of all Passenger Terminal Buildings (PTBs) and PPA offices nationwide have been ordered to reduce the risk of a sustained transmission via the seaports.
“All PPA-related events such as trainings and anniversary celebrations are suspended until further notice,” Santiago added.
He added that the policy on no disembarkation and expected vessel change-crew involving Filipinos, remain in force and “if needed, all berthing privileges of vessels coming from highly-infected countries shall be canceled.”
Frontline service personnel, who facilitate face-to-face transactions with all port users, were also directed to wear face masks. A memorandum postponing, deferring, or even canceling all social events and gatherings encompassing all PPA ports will also be issued.
Proper disinfection and monitoring of cargoes in short-haul voyages are likewise in place, Santiago assured, adding that a “highly accurate passenger information system for easy contact-tracing and an isolated holding and testing area for COVID-19 symptomatic port users are in place in all ports.”
“To date, PPA ports remain in full commercial operations and no person showing the symptoms of the COVID-19 has been detected. International cargo vessels are also being strictly screened at anchorage prior to docking. Vessels with Certificates of Free Pratique – a document issued by health to attest the ship does not carry any infectious disease – are allowed to dock, otherwise, they are held in preventive anchorage for 14 days before being allowed to berth,” he added.