Philippine Ports Authority opens COVID-19 test center for seafarers
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has formally opened a dedicated RT-PCR Molecular Testing Laboratory for this purpose, with the goal of facilitating the movement of seafarers to and from the country.
The new facility will meet the testing criteria for crew-change hub ports operated by the PPA, with a daily testing capacity of approximately 2,000 and a 24 to 48-hour turnaround period for performance.
The Philippines, with over 400,000 Filipino seafarers on board international-going vessels, is one of the largest suppliers of seafarers to the international market.
Representatives of the Department of Health had already visited the new testing facility earlier this month and given a green light to begin operations after the facility received a perfect score on its competence test.
Meanwhile, in the last four months, nearly a thousand ships have called for a change of crew at the Port of Manila.
PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago said that since the middle stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has been in the works to assist the government in the processing of seafarers in particular and to encourage crew changes in the region.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international shipping industry has been plagued by crew shift woes as most countries closed their borders in their attempt to minimize more infection from transiting seafarers. To guarantee the well-being of seafarers, crew changes are necessary.
Meanwhile, the PPA has built several COVID-19 related facilities since April this year, such as the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal Quarantine Center, the Port Capinpin 100-bed quarantine facility, both realized through the Lopez Group of Companies' P100 million funding, and this Molecular Testing Laboratory.
Maritime Business World