Quarantine for cargo ships from any port lifted

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THE BUREAU of Quarantine (BoQ) has exempted all cargo ships from the required 14-day quarantine amid the novel coronavirus (nCoV) threat in consideration of the country’s supply chain, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said on Wednesday.

“As far as cargo business is concerned, we are business as usual. In so far as ships are concerned, there is no quarantine. There is no quarantine in so far as cargos are concerned. We’ve been able to clarify this with the Bureau of Quarantine because initially there was an average 14-day quarantine period being imposed,” Mr. Santiago said in a briefing.

The BoQ lifted the policy after PPA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made an appeal, citing serious disruption in the supply chain.

“It will gravely impact our supply chain if we hold ships in quarantine for an average of 14 days, so they considered that,” he said, “We have 29 ship arrivals a week, and 83% of the 29, approximately come from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.”

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, in a separate interview with reporters, said the exemption applies only to the cargo containers and not the members of the ship’s crew.

Hindi quarantined dapat ‘yung container. Kung ‘yung tao in the boat, pwedeng hindi bumaba (The container should not be quarantined. The people in the boat, they don’t have to come down),” Mr. Lopez said.

He said stopping the entry of goods will hurt trade unnecessarily.

At the same time, Mr. Lopez said Philippine manufacturers may have to look for alternative sources as the export and import supply chain experiences delays or should the nCov outbreak drag on.

Mr. Santiago also clarified that the quarantine protocol remains in effect for cruise ships.

“In so far as cruise ships are concerned, if their last port of embarkation is China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, they will not be allowed to disembark in Philippine ports. They will be required to stay aboard the ships,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Jenina P. Ibañez