Quarantine and Testing Hotels Opened in Manila for Safe Crew Changes
Recognizing the growing concerns arising from several incidents of Filipino seafarers testing positive for COVID-19, efforts are underway to enhance the facilities in Manila to facilitate safe crew changes. The International Maritime Employer’s Council and the International Transport Worker’s Federation working in cooperation set up a new facility for seafarers in Manila.
Recently, Filipino seafarers were cited in the outbreaks of the virus aboard ships. In Western Australia, 80 percent of the crew aboard the bulker the Patricia Oldendorff tested positive for the virus in late September. Oldendroff reported that it had conducted a crew change while at Manila at the beginning of the month. Days later, crew aboard the ore carrier Vega Dream also tested positive for the virus, while in October New Zealand traced a case of the virus to the container ship the Sofrana Surville that carried out a crew change with seafarers from the Philippines while docked in Auckland.
The result of the resurgence of the virus and these cases, which were all linked to Filipino seafarers, were calls for enhanced testing and protocols. Some jurisdictions, including Western Australia, also limited future crew changes as a result of the incidents.
The unions responded this week by opening quarantine and testing facilities in Manila to address questions about the implementation of testing and quarantines before seafarers joined their ships. They are using two hotels in Manila to provide a location for 14-day quarantines.
The organizers also reported that each seafarer would undergo a COVID-19 test before entering and again before leaving the quarantine. While staying in the hotels, they will be in individual rooms where they will have all their meals delivered. Each person will also have a daily body temperature reading recorded.
“We want members to book rooms as soon as possible, to make sure the initiative is successful,” said Francesco Gargiulo, CEO of IMEC. He also reported that they were exploring establishing similar quarantine facilities in India and the Ukraine for seafarers.
Several safeguards have also been instituted at the two locations to provide assurances to the shipping lines and crewing agencies that the protocols will be enforced. Bureau Veritas will be auditing the operation and all of the seafarers staying at the facility will each be issued a secure health pass.