Bicol on alert for arrival of tugboat with COVID-infected crew

LEGAZPI CITY – The Bicol Regional Task Force Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) are on alert status for the arrival of a tugboat and barge from Butuan City reportedly with crew members infected with the virus, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said on Sunday.

In an interview, Gremil Naz, OCD spokesperson, said the agency raised the alert on Saturday after receiving a report that M/V Tug Clyde and Barge Claudia would arrive at a private port in Sto. Domingo, Albay around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, with 20 crew members, 12 of whom are Covid-19 positive.

“The 258 gross tons tugboat and barge whose last port of call was Indonesia is reportedly owned and operated by Nathaniel Uy of Barangay San Vicente, Milaor town in Camarines Sur province,” he said.

The vessel from Indonesia arrived at the port of Butuan at around 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 14.

Naz said there was no information yet about the purpose of the vessel’s port of call in Indonesia and why it docked at Butuan port.

OCD Bicol has informed the OCD National Emergency Center (EOC) and alerted the city government of Legazpi and the concerned agencies including the Department of Transportation, Philippine National Police, Naval Forces of Southern Luzon, and Philippine Coast Guard, to closely monitor the movement of the vessel including the status of the people on board.

The OCD denied an earlier report that the vessel sailed for Albay without seeking clearance from maritime authorities in Butuan.

Naz said the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in the Caraga Region had cleared and allowed the vessel to sail.

“The OCD has already gotten in touch with the owner of the vessel and assured the agency that the vessel and its crew would comply with all health protocols set by the task force upon arrival on Tuesday,” he added.

Meanwhile, Claudio Yucot, OCD Bicol regional director, in a letter sent to the Philippine News Agency said the Bicol Task Force Covid-19 will hold a coordination and response meeting on Monday that will focus on the actions to be taken concerning the tugboat’s arrival.

“The Bureau of Quarantine is requested to present the protocol on the handling of passengers of M/V Tug Clyde and Barge Claudia upon its expected arrival,” the letter read.The local task forces on Covid-19 of both Legazpi City and Sto. Domingo town are tasked to discuss their respective plan of action while the Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital was also urged to send a representative to talk about their course of treatment for the infected vessel crewmembers. (PNA)

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