LEGAZPI CITY – The Bicol Regional Task Force COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) have decided not to allow a tugboat and barge with confirmed COVID-19 positive crew members to dock at a port in Albay.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director Claudio Yucot said they arrived at the decision during their coordination meeting on Monday to prevent the virus from spreading and ensure the safety of Bicolanos.
“Because of the decision of local government unit (LGU) Sto. Domingo, we were able to decide that the tugboat will be kept anchored at sea and the steam coal must be unloaded for it will cost environmental problems if not disembarked,” said Yucot.
Yucot also said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will head the Incident Management Team (IMT) to ensure that no protocols against COVID-19 would be violated, while the Philippine National Police (PNP) will keep watch over the vicinity to ensure overall security.
“Based on the meeting, the Department of Health (DOH) Bicol will ensure that the virus will not spread, and recommended that the vessel (crew) will be quarantined with strict 14 days of isolation. No boarding and disembarking while on the seventh day, all crew will be subjected to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, and despite negative results, they need to continue the 14 days quarantine period,” he added.
Yucot also said the DOH-Caraga was able to get specimen samples from the infected crew for whole-genome sequencing to determine the COVID-19 variant.
Yucot said Pherwin Shipping Corporation, the owner of the tugboat and barge, will provide all the needs of the crew while on quarantine, and expressed willingness to comply with all requirements of the task force.
The vessel came from Indonesia and arrived at the port of Butuan at around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 14 before sailing towards Bicol.