Covid-19 variants spook Manila, crew change bans put in place

New strains of Covid-19 detected in the UK and South Africa are spooking immigration authorities around the world. The variants of the virus have been found to be far more contagious than the original Covid-19, and have quickly spread around the globe over the past month.

The Philippines, the world’s leading crewing provider and a top destination for crew changes during the pandemic, has decided to halt crew changes for seafarers who have been in 21 different countries around the world two weeks prior to visiting the Southeast Asian republic.

According to a post on Facebook, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has decided to halt crew changes through to January 15 for any crew who have visited Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK or the US recently.

Additional countries could be added to the list, the PPA warned.

“The changes are being imposed by the country as a safety net to contain the possible entry of the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in the country through crew change,” the PPA explained.

The temporary ban could be extended beyond the initial January 15 deadline, the PPA warned.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Really sad to see this, as nearly 400,000 seafarers still need to be relieved worldwide and the Philippino seafarers normally return to sea after Christmas.

    Seafarers should be vaccinated as soon as possible and crew change should continue without disruption as at least 15-20% of all seafarers on board have completed more than 11 months on board.

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