International bulk carriers seen in the municipal waters of Quezon.

QUEZON, Palawan — International bulk carriers that transport nickel ores to China and Japan, which have high cases of confirmed COVID-19, continue to dock in this town, raising concerns from local authorities and residents.

Anxiety regarding their sustained arrival was expressed by residents as rumors spread that there is already a positive COVID-19 case in their town because of the foreign vessels.

International cargo vessels MV Dato Lucky and MV New Beginning service the transportation of nickel ores of Berong Nickel Corporation (BNC) in Barangay Berong.

In a meeting called Tuesday by Berong village chairman Recidello Indap Jr., BNC port and shipping superintendent Engr. Allan Millare and community relations officer Deborah Arquio clarified that before docking to Quezon, all foreign vessels passed all the quarantine measures being implemented by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

MV Dato Lucky arrived in Berong Port on March 1 after leaving Ningde Port, along the northeastern coast of Fujian province, China on February 19. It underwent a 14-day quarantine because of its history of travel in China.

It was boarded by quarantine officers on March 5 and was issued a “certificate of free pratique”, which indicates it has “no infectious disease or plague on board and therefore permitted to enter the port and to allow people to board and disembark”.

“Nang magdeklara po ang pamahalaan para sa 14-day quarantine sa pangunguna ng Bureau of Quarantine, sumunod po sa proseso ang kumpanya sa mga alituntuning ito at ganoon din ang mga barko na dumadaong sa ating pier,” he said.

“Ang MV Dato Lucky ay galing po ng port ng Ningde, China at umalis doon noong February 19. Dumating siya sa pilot area (anchorage) noong March 1 kung saan ginawa ang quarantine. Umakyat ang mga quarantine medical team noong March 5 at na isyuhan ng certification at free pratique noong araw ding iyon,” he added.

MV New Beginning, on the other hand, arrived on March 14 but was not required to undergo the 14-day quarantine, Millare said, because it did not come from China.

“Yon namang kararating lang na barko na MV New Beginning na galing Japan, ito ay dumating noong March 14 sa Berong port. Ito ay hindi na ni-require ng BOQ ng 14-day quarantine period dahil hindi naman galing ng China ang barko,” he added.

Millare said MV New Beginning is without activities because they are still completing the task of the first cargo vessel.

He said this after he was asked by community nurse-in-charge Carla Palanca if the sailors of the newly-arrived foreign vessel have already gotten down.

“Wala pang ano mang aktibidad sa bagong dating dahil tinatapos pa ang unang barko,” he said.

Palanca told Millare it is important that the cargo vessel from Japan undergoes a 10-day quarantine day that will be assisted by members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT).

“Dapat ay mag-conduct ng 10-day quarantine dahil dumating pa noong March 14 ang barko at bago magkaroon ng aktibidad para masiguro natin na ligtas ang mga tao na aakyat baba mula sa barko,” Palanca said.

From January 3 to March 14, the foreign vessels that have dropped anchor in Quezon are MV Beauty Jasmine, MV EM Ruby, MV Kirwan, MV Josco Taizhou, MV Yangtze Dawn, and MV Datu Lucky — all from China, and MB New Beginning from Japan.

Municipal health officer Dr. Joseveline Damalerio said all foreign vessels arriving in Quezon for the BNC should strictly undergo the required quarantining period before their activities.

“The foreign vessels coming from China should undergo 14-day quarantine, it’s 40 miles away from our municipal waters bago sila dumaong sa port ng Berong. Responsibility yan bago sila dumaong sa port ng Berong. Para sa mga vessels naman na galing ng Japan, halimbawa, at dumaan din sa BOQ — ito ay cleared sa inspection at hindi nakitaan ng symptoms ang mga sakay nito ng ating quarantine medical officer, hindi na nila kailangan pang dumaan sa 14-day quarantine period, ” she said.

“Pero kung sila ay makikitaan ng symptoms sila ay kinakailangan dumaan sa 14-day quarantine alinsunod sa ipinapatupad ng ating pamahalaan at sila dapat ay stop operation, kahit pa hindi sila galing ng China or doon sa mga lugar na infected ng COVID-19,” Damalerio added.