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PCG guards tugboat with Covid-19 infected crew

By Connie Calipay

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is keeping an eye on the tugboat with crew members who have tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to ensure compliance with quarantine protocols and prevent other vessels from getting near.

This was after Dr. Ruben Fortuno, head of the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) in Albay, said on July 20 that the M/V Tug Clyde and Barge Claudia’s infected crew remain asymptomatic.

Fortuno said they were coordinating and closely monitoring the situation of the crew while the tugboat is anchored in the waters off Barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo, Albay.

“They were all in high spirits when we chatted with them earlier and they were feeling good,” he said, adding they have been monitoring the men’s body temperature and oxygen saturation.

“The PCG continues maritime security to ensure the crew members’ compliance (with) the quarantine protocols and no fishermen can come closer to the

vessel,” Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bicol Director Marlon Loterte said in an interview after the meeting with the Incident Management Team headed by the PCG.

Jessar Adornado, Office of Civil Defense 5 assistant director, in a text message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), confirmed that eight of the 19 crewmen were Bicolanos.

“The crew of the tugboat were from Bicol - eight; Bulacan - three; Zamboanga - two; Romblon – one; Nueva Ecija- two; Aklan – one; and from Cavite - two,” he said.

Adornado also added that based on the report, 12 crew members were confirmed Covid-19-positive but one of them disembarked in Butuan.

Based on news reports, that crew member is now under isolation.

Loterte added that the Pherwin Shipping Corp., the owner of the tugboat and barge, would provide all the needs of the crew while on quarantine, and expressed willingness to comply with all requirements of the task force.

We are preparing for the unloading of the 8,000 metric tons of steam coal from Barge Claudia,” he added.

Options considered during the meeting include the pulling of the barge by another tugboat to unload the coal without anyone coming into contact or being exposed to the infected crew members.

Loterte added that health officials have been coordinating with the company’s medical team for the health and medical needs of the crew.

“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-day quarantine period,” he added.

Specimen samples were collected from the infected crew members for whole-genome sequencing to determine the Covid-19 variant.

The vessel came from Indonesia and arrived at the port of Butuan at 12:30 AM on July 14. (PNA)


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