COVID-19 infects 25 RoRo vessel crew members

Published August 9, 2021, 2:12 PM

by Joenald M. Rayos

PORT of Batangas – Twenty-five crew members of a roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) passenger ship tested positive for COVID-19 in what was considered as the biggest virus contamination in a single setting in Batangas.

M/V St. Anthony de Padua, owned and managed by 2Go Travel, was about to sail from the Port of Batangas to the Port of Caticlan in the province of Antique last Sunday, August 1, when two of its crew members disembarked at Ramp 5 and went to a private hospital after one of them experienced loss of appetite.

With all the remaining crew and passengers on board, the vessel sailed to Visayas only to be informed the following day that the two crew members who went to the hospital tested positive for COVID-19.

On the night of August 3, the vessel left the Port of Caticlan and arrived at the Port of Batangas the following day with 33 more passengers on board.

On that same day, after the disembarkation of the passengers, the vessel stayed at the Batangas Bay in Bauan town where two more crew members experienced loss of appetite and smell.

The Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) received a call from Engr. Lansen Padua of 2Go Travel seeking assistance to transport the two staff members to the hospital. The call for help was relayed to Dr. Masikap de Castro of the Bureau of Quarantine.

On Thursday, Aug. 5, the two crew members were brought to another private hospital but they were not accommodated there even after they tested positive for COVID-19.

They were transferred to a private resort, an accredited facility of the local government, before one of them was moved to a quarantine facility while the other was taken to San Juan District Hospital.

Alarmed by the increasing contamination within the vessel, the shipping company tapped a private testing laboratory to test all the crew of the vessel. On August 7, it was confirmed that 25 of them were all infected with the virus.

As of this writing, all of the crew members, the 25 positives and the negatives alike, are on quarantine aboard the vessel.

Engr. Padua, however, explained that the 25 positive crew members are individually isolated within the vessel.

Meanwhile, Governor Hermilando I. Mandanas, asked the shipping company to coordinate closely with concerned agencies for the immediate contact tracing of the passengers from Caticlan, Antique, who disembarked in the Port of Batangas on Wednesday morning.

Dr. Ernesto Magsino, another member of the Batangas IATF, expressed alarm over possible infection of the remaining crews as most of the Delta variants were traced to the asymptomatic patients.
He noted that 25 crew members turned positive for COVID-19 in a matter of three to four days.