By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Negros Occidental confirmed Wednesday that two foreign vessels were placed on quarantine off the coastline of Bacolod City, amid the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
PCG-Negros Occidental chief, Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, said the first vessel to arrive Monday evening was the 3,300-metric ton cargo vessel, M/V Unicorn Bravo, from Xiamen, China.
The vessel has 15 Chinese crew and four from Myanmar.
Benjamin said the ship was loaded with fertilizer.
The second vessel, M/V BMC Catherin from the Vietnamese port city of Nghi Son, arrived shortly after Unicorn Bravo reached Bacolod waters.
A bulk carrier, BMC Catherine was loaded with cement and has 23 crewmembers – 19 Vietnamese and four Indians.
Although BMC Catherine was also placed on quarantine, Benjamin said they are concentrating more on the Unicorn Bravo per guidelines from the PCG to implement a 14-day quarantine for all vessels originating from China.
BMC Catherine will also be allowed to dock at Bredco port immediately after clearing inspections by the Bureau of Quarantine.
As part of the protocol, the captain of the Unicorn Bravo forwarded a document showing they have been monitoring the body temperature of all their crew during their transit to the Philippines.
The vessel was also ordered to anchor at 400 meters away from Bredco port during the 14-day quarantine period.
Benjamin said that they have not received reports from the owner of the vessel if they are running low in food and water.
He said they are assuming that the ship still has enough provisions to last for a few more days at sea.
The crew are not allowed to disembark during the quarantine period.
Benjamin said a doctor from the Bureau of Quarantine is scheduled to board the vessel today, Feb 27, 2020, for inspection.
Benjamin also said he has contacted the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office cluster head, Executive Assistant Joemarie Vargas.
So far, Mayor Evelio Leonardia had not issued any directive that would otherwise ban the vessel from entering Bredco port.
Earlier this month, the M/V Sea Music, which originated from the Chinese port city of Ningde, was refused entry into San Carlos City waters.
The vessel, however, was later allowed to anchor off Sipaway Island, after the operator of the vessel appealed for the ship to anchor on “humanitarian grounds” as the vessel was not able to stock up food and fresh water while in China.