PPA ports under tight watch, new measures against COVID-19 imposed

11 MARCH 2020, MANILA—In its bid to reduce the risk of transmission through ports, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) intensifies its measures against the deadly Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

On top of the usual thermal scanning of passengers and port personnel in all ports, the PPA has mandated all its Port Management Offices to make available to passengers, port users and other stakeholders necessary disinfecting supply such as anti-bacterial solutions and sanitizers.

It likewise directed all its frontline service personnel to wear face masks. Frontline personnel is the most vulnerable medium of transmission due to face-to-face transactions with all port users.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said they have likewise ordered its Human Resource Management Department to issue a memorandum postponing, deferring or even canceling all social events and gatherings encompassing all PPA ports.

“Fumigation and disinfection of all Passenger Terminal Buildings (PTBs) and PPA offices nationwide are also ongoing in order to reduce the risk of a sustained transmission via the seaports,” Santiago explained.

“All PPA-related events such as trainings and anniversary celebrations are suspended until further notice,” Santiago said.

“The policy on no disembarkation and expected vessel change-crew involving Filipinos, remain in force and if needed, all berthing privileges of vessels coming from highly-infected countries shall be canceled,” Santiago added.

The PPA has likewise been showing infomercials in all its offices and PTBs on the various safety measures against COVID-19 for information and guidance of its employees and port users nationwide.

Proper disinfection and monitoring of cargoes in short-haul voyages are likewise in place.

A highly accurate passenger information system for easy contact-tracing and an isolated holding and testing area for COVID-19 symptomatic port users are in place in all ports.

Proper coordination with the Department of Health, the Bureau of Quarantine, the Bureau of Customs, the Maritime Industry Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, Ship Agents and Shipowners, and all other shipping and logistics stakeholders through a centralized reporting system is also being considered.

“Ports are main gateways and PPA needs to make sure that these remain COVID-19 free. The measures being put into place will definitely slowdown port processes, and we are asking the sea-traveling public for patience and understanding as we are working towards the resolution of this major health concern,” Santiago stressed.

To date, PPA ports remain in full commercial operations and no person showing the symptoms of the COVID-19 has been detected. International cargo vessels are also being strictly screened at anchorage prior to docking. Vessels with Free Pratique are allowed to dock, otherwise, they are held in preventive anchorage for 14 days before being allowed to berth.