STRICT CHECK. A rigid hull inflatable boat and patrol vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in waters off the coast of Manila. PCG Commandant, Adm. Joel Garcia on Friday (Jan. 24, 2020) ordered an intensified inspection of all foreign vessels amid the threat of a possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has alerted its port state control officers to increase maritime security efforts in response to the international outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

In a statement on Friday, PCG Commandant, Adm. Joel Garcia said the alert was meant to intensify the comprehensive inspection of PCG port state control officers, together with the Bureau of Quarantine, on all foreign vessels entering major ports in the country.

“They ensure the implementation of stricter screening and safety measures to prevent the entry and possible spread of the new strain of coronavirus in the Philippines,” Garcia said.

It was also in adherence to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s directive for increased vigilance against the 2019-nCoV in all of the country’s international gateways.

On Thursday, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) suspended indefinitely all airline operation from Wuhan, China — the original point of the outbreak — to the country.

According to CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, two Philippine carriers operating regular charter services between Wuhan and Kalibo, Aklan have both been suspended.

First detected in Wuhan, China last December, the death toll has jumped to 26 with 830 infected, foreign newspapers reported.