Officials from Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat Islands issued a joint resolution on Wednesday, February 12, requesting for a designated anchorage and quarantine area for all vessels from countries affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report, governors of the three coastal areas acknowledged that they lack the ability and the resources to “protect all their constituents and tourists from COVID-19.”
Thus, the three officials requested the Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Immigration (BOI), and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to identify a national anchorage and common quarantine area for all vessels entering the provinces. This would ensure that the provinces would remain free from the viral disease.
The resolution also requested the mentioned agencies to undertake the necessary protocol in those designated areas prior to the entry of the vessels in the provinces.
In addition, Dinagat Islands Governor Arlene “Kaka” J. Bag-o also issued an executive order (EO) banning “mining vessels coming from China and other COVID-19-affected countries from docking on the island.”
Dinagat Island Provincial Officer Jeffrey Crisostomo clarified that these mining vessels are not forbidden from loading ore from the province’s nickel mines as long as they observe the guidelines set by the DOH.
“Mining vessels from China are not prohibited from conducting business with mining companies in Dinagat Islands. THe governor’s EO is flexible in terms of mining vessels from China, but they must follow the DOH guidelines on quarantine of crew and other protocols from relevant government agencies,” Crisostomo was quoted as saying in the report.
Per DOH guidelines issued on February 4, all seagoing vessels from China and other countries affected by the virus are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at sea. The memorandum also ordered a “no disembarkation” policy for all ship personnel.
The action followed the World Health Organization (WHO)’s declaration of the COVID-19 as a public health emergency.
Per updated statistics, the DOH-Caraga has recorded a total of 21 individuals considered as persons-under-monitoring (PUMs), 16 of whom had already completed the monitoring period with no signs of respiratory infections.
At present, DOH-13 affirms that the region remains free of COVID-19.