COVID-19 afflicted crew rescued by Philippine health authorities
Government assists foreign vessel with COVID-19 afflicted crew
MANILA – Philippine officials today said the Department of Health (DOH) thru its Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) assisted MV Athens Bridge in its entry into the Philippines and extended necessary medical assistance to its crew members after 12 of its Filipino crew tested positive for COVID-19 with two said to be in critical condition.
“The vessel carrying 21 Filipino crew members sought refuge on May 3, and was reported to have had travel history to India,” the DOH statement added.
The vessel agent, Ben Line Agencies requested for vessel acceptance to the Philippines, the DOH immediately ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to facilitate medical rescue of the Filipinos aboard the vessel. The BoQ, along with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) conducted emergency meeting to facilitate the medical evacuation of two Filipinos in critical condition and determine the best course of action for the rest of the crew.
“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,” Health Secretary Duque said.
The two Filipinos in need of immediate medical assistance were transferred to a hospital in Metro Manila. The vessel was not deemed fit as a quarantine facility for the crew to undergo isolation due to lack of rooms. The 10 remaining COVID-19 positive crew with mild cases will be transferred to a BOQ quarantine facility together with the rest of the exposed crew, the statement revealed.
The Department of Health assured the conduct of the of the rescue operations is done with the observance of strict protocols of handling of COVID-19 patients.
“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,” Sec. Duque concluded. (Melo M. Acuna)
Rescue and Medical Evacuation of COVID-19 afflicted crewmen of MV Athens Bridge. (PCG Photos)