A bulk carrier carrying 22 Chinese nationals has been allowed to dock at a private port in Garcia Hernandez after they were cleared by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) amid the rising cases of novel coronavirus (nCoV) in China and while local authorities scramble to protect the province from the disease.
MV Fortune Tiger which will collect limestone at the town is expected to dock within the day, said Venidicto Azarcon of the Philippine Mining Service Corporation (PMSC).
The vessel which flies the Chinese flag and traveled from Jinzhou, China arrived in waters off Bohol on Tuesday but was not allowed to go within 10 nautical miles from the PMSC’s port pending clearance from the BOQ.
Quarantine officer Doctor Richli Dela Fuente along with quarantine nurse Garlo Petallar who boarded the vessel cleared the crew members and captain as they did not exhibit symptoms of the nCoV such as fever.
Both BOQ officers were ferried to the Fortune Tiger on Thursday morning as the vessel dropped anchor and awaited clearance in waters off Garcia Hernandez. Customs and immigration agents also boarded the ship after it was cleared by the BOQ.
Following the inspection, the vessel was issued a “free patique,” a license given to a ship to enter a port on the assurance that it is free from contagious diseases.
According to Petallar, the crew members will not be allowed to disembark from the vessel as directed through a newly issued BOQ memorandum.
“Tanan nga crew sa ship, dili na sila pwede munaog sa barko,” Petallar said. “Bag-o lang na namo na memo last February 5 nigawas.”
Azarcon explained that their port has a conveyor belt which loads the limestone on the ship.
The vessel is expected to stay in Bohol for four days before it departs for New Caledonia, a French territory comprising dozens of islands in the South Pacific.
It is the second time that the Fortune Tiger made port call at Garcia Hernandez but the first time with strict quarantine measures in place. (A. Doydora)