As the number of COVID-19-infected people rises due to the rapid spread of the second strain, the Philippines has added its name to the expanding list of countries that prohibit crew changes.
The countries in the list are strictly adhering themselves to the plan of banning crew changes for foreign ships, which had its call to the Indian sub-continent and some other Middle East countries in the last 14 days. The only exception stands for Filipino seafarers, as they are allowed to enter, even if they are reporting from these 7 countries. Following their entry, they will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine at any government infrastructure.
The Philippines has joined the likes of Fujairah, Singapore, and Hong Kong in limiting crew changes for seafarers arriving from Indian subcontinent countries during the last 14 days.
According to a statement issued by the ship agents GAC, vessels that have stopped in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman in the last 14 days are restricted and prohibited from disembarking their foreign seafarers on the shores of the Philippines from May 15th to May 31st.
"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 of the established One-Shop Stops (OSS) for Seafarers," GAC quoted.
Whole Genome Sequencing will be performed on samples collected from tourists from the above-mentioned countries who tested positive in the Philippines. All close connections must be quarantined for 14 days at a facility, and contact tracking will be extended to third-generation connections.
Finally, ships destined for the aforementioned nations will be subject to the Philippines' current leave regulations as well as the aforementioned nations' entrance rules.
To combat the spread of Covid-19 variations, this newest move is the same as the temporary prohibition on the international crew change that was enacted from December 30, 2020, to February 1, earlier this year.
The Neptune Declaration, dubbed "the first indicator," conducted an overall survey in mid-April 2021 and discovered that 5.8% of seafarers remained onboard after their contracts expired. Also, 0.4% had stayed onboard for more than 11 months, the maximum duration allowed under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
Interpreting the survey, Rajesh Unni ( CEO, synergy Group) said that "While the percentages of the first indicator appear low, this should not be interpreted as an indication that the crew change crisis is over. On the contrary, we see worrying signs with the rapid spread of new strains of Covid, in India and other countries, which should be a big cause for concern for our industry".
This statement came in when the temporary prohibition was in play, but countries becoming more concerned about their locals are taking the 'crew change' matter on a serious note. Things are going to worsen more when the anticipated third wave of covid will take on the charge.