A tugboat sailing from Indonesia to the Philippines witnessed as many as 12 Filipino members of its crew testing positive for the dreaded COVID-19 virus, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
While 11 of them are being monitored in quarantine aboard the vessel in the port of Albay, the 12th person managed to sneak off the boat in his hometown of Butuan but is being kept under watch there by the authorities.
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DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stated on July 20 stated that eight other sailors among the 20-strong all-Filipino crew however tested negative for the disease.
The vessel is now being monitored by the Coast Guard with no one allowed to disembark or enter, she told media online, adding that any of the crew becoming symptomatic would be brought to the nearest hospital there.
Meanwhile, the lone crew member — who had disregarded orders to stay aboard the vessel and had instead gone home to his family – has been isolated, while the driver of the public transport he took, a helper, and all his relatives have been quarantined by the local government, she said.
The DOH sent 5 samples – taken from the 11 COVID-19 tugboat crew — to the Philippine Genome Center for sequencing to determine if they are infected with a foreign variant, Vergeire added.
The vessel’s point of origin – Indonesia — is the current epicenter of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, where the number of cases have risen in the wake of the more transmissible Delta variant. (AW)