MANILA, Philippines — Twelve crew members aboard a vessel from India tested positive for COVID-19, including two seafarers who are in critical condition, the Department of Health said Friday.
In a briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said authorities evacuated two people needing urgent medical care from the MV Athens Bridge. The vessel carrying 21 Filipino crew members had travel history to India, which is fighting a staggering surge of COVID-19 cases.
The two patients were transferred to a hospital in Manila. Meanwhile, the 10 remaining COVID-19 positive crew with mild cases as well as those who were exposed will be transferred to a quarantine facility.
Vergeire said all positive samples will undergo genome sequencing to check if they are carrying B.1.617, the variant first found in India which is said to have contributed to the surge there. Health authorities in the Philippines have yet to detect a case of B.1.617 variant.
The government is prohibiting the entry of travelers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka until May 14 to prevent the new coronavirus variant from reaching the country.
In a separate statement, the country’s Maritime Industry Authority said MV Athens Bridge left India on April 22 and arrived in Haiphong, Vietnam on May 1 where the crew members were tested.
The Philippine Coast Guard received a request from the ship’s captain to execute a medical evacuation on May 6. At the time, the vessel was located 12 nautical miles west of Corregidor Island. — Gaea Katreena Cabico
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