Pinoy seafarer in foreign ship bound for Iligan tests positive for COVID-19

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 20 June) – An Iligan-bound ship from Indonesia was not allowed to dock at the port here on June 16 after a Filipino seafarer on board manifested symptoms of COVID-19 and later tested positive.

Patrick Nuñez, Chief of  the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office  and concurrent  Incident Commander of the local Inter Agency Task  Force for  Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) told MindaNews on Saturday that the ship captain informed the Bureau of Quarantine officer and the local IATF that one member of the all-Filipino 18-member crew had fever and cough.

Nuñez said the vessel anchored off Iligan Bay, some eight to ten miles west of the port of Granex,  a coconut oil producing company  in the coastal village of Kiwalan.

Authorities did not name the ship but said it was supposed to load coconut oil but was not allowed to dock.

“I did not allow the vessel to dock at the port of Granex to load cargo to prevent the spread of the virus,” Nuñez said.

Dr. Andrew Marcella, Quarantine Officer, said the vessel arrived at around 2 a .m. on June 16 and they were able to board the vessel at 6 a.m. for the quarantine inspection.

“The ship captain informed me that one crew had fever and cough. I did necessary information  dissemination to all port authorities,” he said.

Marcilla said the crew member was swabbed  on June 17 and the result of the RT-PCR test released on June 18 showed he tested positive for SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The patient was transferred to a hospital here.

Dr. Belinda Lim, manager of the Emergency Operations Center of the city’s health cluster, said medical technologists from the Philippine Red Cross in Iligan City boarded the vessel to swab the 18-all Filipino crew on Friday, June 18. By 12:30 noon, the ship sailed to Manila after the BOQ issued a clearance.

It is not clear why the ship was sailing to Manila.

Lim said that if the results of the tests conducted on the 18 Filipino crew members show some of them tested positive for COVID-19, the quarantine team in Manila will take care of the crew and coordinate with the local IATF for treatment at the  isolation facility.  (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)