BOQ heightens nCoV surveillance, monitoring

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ)-Zamboanga station has assured that passengers coming in from Malaysia through a private vessel catering the Zamboanga-Sandakan route, undergo proper health assessment on board before disembarking at the local port.

Dr. Omar Aranan, BOQ-Zamboanga Station Chief said medical personnel conduct the rapid health assessment of all passengers and deportees coming in to Zamboanga in addition to the health assessment the passengers are subjected to before boarding the vessel in Sandakan.

“We have nothing to worry because we have people in the vessel,” Aranan told the press briefing in City Hall Monday.

As an added safety measure, the BOQ has coordinated with other agencies for the protection of all other ports of entry within its area of responsibility. 

Aranan said the BOQ has linked up with shipping agents, different maritime agencies, port authority and members of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Services (CIQS) for the consolidation of efforts in trying to prevent the entry and spread of the dreaded nCoV.

Together, the agencies agreed that no shore pass will be issued to foreign crews or vessels that will come and that there would be minimal contacts between the port operators and vessel crews.

Aranan said his office has also coordinated with the different port safety security officers on different points of entry including private wharves to look at the Safety Security Plan especially for those catering foreign vessels plying the Zamboanga route.

Ship agent representatives have also been required to submit to the BOQ an advance copy of the Maritime declaration of health, voyage memorandum and crew list in order for the latter to have the pertinent documents on hand even before the vessel arrives in Zamboanga.

In this manner, Aranan said, the BOQ has been able to do the scrutiny even before the vessel arrives. Vital decisions or precautionary measures can be done according to the documents on hand, he added.

Based on the DILG order, the concerned crew or the vessel should be placed in a 14-day quarantine period from the last origin.

Nonetheless, the BOQ official said these safety measures are undertaken without hampering trade and commerce. “We do our job at the same time we have to strictly monitor our safety in terms of health,” Aranan added. (Sheila Covarrubias)