PPA sets parameters for cargo ships calling in the country amid nCoV ARD scare

4 FEBRUARY 2020, MANILA—In order not to disrupt the international cargo supply chain, Philippine ports remain open to all ships even from those originating from China and its Special Administrative Regions (SARs).

The only condition is the non-disembarkation of vessel crew and no visitors allowed while docked in any PPA-controlled port or at anchorage.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said that majority of Philippine cargoes originate from hub ports located primarily in China and its SARs like Hong Kong and Taiwan as Philippine ports are predominantly considered as feeder ports.

“We cannot afford to ban the entry of international ships to our shores in the midst of this nCoV ARD scare as doing so will surely paralyze our supply chain as most of our imports and exports go to the hub ports located in China and its SARs,” Santiago stressed.

“Instead, we are banning the disembarkation of the crew of any vessel which called in China or any of its SARs within the 14-day period prior to its arrival in any Philippine port,” Santiago said, adding that no visitors are also allowed within such period in order to minimize person-to-person interaction with the crew.

“We also noted that vessel operators also change crew at some point in the voyage of the vessel, and if such case happens in the Philippines, the crew who will be replaced shall undergo strict quarantine period and only be allowed to go home if cleared by the Department of Health,” Santiago added.

However, Santiago reiterated that ships calling in the Philippines more than 14 days after calling out at a port in China or its SARs shall be allowed to dock without restrictions.

The Philippines, meanwhile, is tightening its grip in almost all of its local and international gateways in order to prevent the entry of the deadly Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (nCoV ARD).

A couple of days ago, the country stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals and stopped giving upon-arrival visas to foreign nationals particularly those coming from China and any of its SARs.

This after the Philippines recorded the first-ever nCoV ARD death outside of China. Suspected nCoV cases in the country have also jumped to about 80 after the reported death.

“Shipping operators need not worry as long as you follow this condition and those listed in the guidelines of the Bureau of Quarantine relative to concerns with a declaration of public health emergency with international concern, you can call at any Philippine port,” Santiago said.