Amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency due to confirmed local transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has tightened its measures to protect Filipino seafarers, Philippine-flagged ships, and the Agency’s workforce from the viral disease.

The MARINA designed its Implementation Plan to intensify detection, prevention, and mitigation of the spread of the COVID-19 among its workforce and the maritime sub-sectors. Local cases tallied at 49 as of 11 March 2020, including a returning seaman, based on reports from the Department of Health (DOH).

Filipino seafarers told to stay hygienic, vigilant

Considering the susceptibility of seafarers to contagion due to the nature of their profession, the MARINA orders that all Filipino seafarers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms be reported to Port Authorities within 24 hours and subjected to isolation onboard.

Likewise, the MARINA advises Filipino seafarers onboard to be vigilant and observe hygienic practices such as proper washing of hands and wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Meanwhile, arriving seafarers who have shown symptoms after their disembarkation are advised to perform self-quarantine and seek medical care immediately.

Precautionary efforts pre-boarding, onboard ships doubled

The MARINA has issued advisories to Philippine-flagged ships instructing them to adopt the necessary measures and procedures to manage the threat of COVID-19. Thermal scanning among crew, and arriving and departing passengers is being strictly implemented, as also practiced in most major establishments and public areas. For embarkation procedures, owners/ operators of passenger vessels are urged to adopt the Pre-boarding Questionnaire and Public Health Passenger/ Crew Locator Form prescribed by the International Maritime Organization for screening and contact tracing purposes.

Apart from sanitary measures such as disinfecting of vessels, the MARINA also emphasizes the importance of coordinating with the Agency and other concerned government agencies such as the Bureau of Quarantine should a passenger be suspected of having COVID-19.

Catering applications online

Considering the recent developments in the country on COVID-19, the MARINA shall receive, evaluate and process seafarers and shipping applications online to ensure the continuity of its operations and transactions, while limiting human interaction.

Having its IT systems in place, the Agency is already finalizing alternative work arrangements to guarantee the fulfillment of its policy development and regulatory functions amid the threat of the disease. Clients are now encouraged to submit their applications electronically.

Meanwhile, safety inspections will still be conducted by MARINA but with observance of extra health precautions.