The Philippines, which had tried to position itself as a crew change hub over the last year, is taking evasive action, worried about the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
Through to the end of the month – and potentially extended beyond that – ships coming from or that have rendered port calls in seven countries within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines are restricted from disembarking their foreign seafarers.
The countries on Manila’s restricted list are Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.
Filipino and foreign seafarers with no immigration admission in the above countries within the last 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines shall be allowed to disembark subject to existing health and safety protocols. Filipino seafarers coming from the banned countries shall not be prohibited from entering the Philippines but are required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, not withstanding a negative RT-PCR result.
Many shipping hubs including ports in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong have enacted similar bans on crews who have recently visited the Indian sub-continent.
The global Covid-19 spotlight has turned to focus on the Indian variant of coronavirus in recent weeks. Named B.1.617, the variant has spread through much of India, and since spread to more than 50 countries. The Indian variant has shown considerably increased transmissibility in preliminary studies.
While earlier cases of a single seafarer becoming infected at sea and then isolated meant operations remained in control, the new strains being detected have the potential to wreak havoc on global supply chains, warned Captain Rajesh Unni, the founder and CEO of Synergy Marine, one of the world’s largest shipmanagers.
“Now we are seeing ships that are being isolated because several members of the crew, at times the majority of them, are infected because the rate of spread of the new variants is much larger. This leaves the ships affected, immobilised,” Unni relayed in conversation with Splash yesterday.