A FOREIGN vessel with travel history to India has sought refuge in the Philippines because 12 of its Filipino crew have been stricken with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a statement Friday, May 7, 2021, the Department of Health (DOH) said two of the 12 Covid-stricken crew of MV Athens Bridge are in critical condition. They have been transferred to a hospital in Metro Manila.
The 10 other patients, who manifested mild symptoms of Covid, will be transferred to a quarantine facility together with the rest of the crew, who have been exposed to the virus.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel from BRP Panglao (FPB-2402) delivered Thursday night, May 6, 10 oxygen tanks to the vessel.
In a separate statement, the Maritime Industry Authority said MV Athens Bridge has been directed to the quarantine anchorage area at the Port of Manila.
Security is being provided by the PCG to ensure that no unauthorized vessel or banca will approach the vessel.
In a social media post, the PCG said the shipping agent related that the vessel departed India on April 22 and reached Haiphong, Vietnam on May 1.
The 21 Filipino crew members underwent an RT-PCR test for Sars-CoV-2 in Vietnam. Twelve were found positive for the virus.
The PCG said the ship captain requested for assistance Thursday because two crew members had progressed to critical condition.
Despite the vessel’s travel history, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government decided to immediately provide assistance.
“Considering the growing concern of this recent variant first detected in India, we were made aware that the vessel had travel history to the country. But in deciding our action steps, our guiding principle was that those were our hardworking kababayans aboard and we would never leave any Filipino behind,” Duque said in the DOH statement.
The DOH assured that health safety protocols were strictly observed in the conduct of the rescue operation.
“We recognize the risk that this act of compassion brings, but we assure Filipinos that we complied with the protocols in handling Covid-19 patients and have coordinated with other government agencies to deliver urgent assistance to our kababayans. We also thank everyone who assisted the crew of MV Athens Bridge,” Duque said.
Travelers from India, including Filipinos, are prohibited from entering the Philippines until May 14, 2021 as a precautionary measure against Covid-19 transmission.
The prohibition has been expanded to cover those with travel history to Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)