Subic port on alert against new coronavirus: administrator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2020 10:35 AM

Cargo ship M/V Bavaria waits for loading of containers as it is docked at Subic port in Zambales province, northwestern Philippines on May 30, 2019. Ports and airports in Subic Bay are placed on heightened alert to prevent the entry of China novel coronavirus in the country. Aaron Favila, AP/File

MANILA - Transport terminals in Subic Bay are on "heightened alert" to prevent the entry of the novel coronavirus in the country, its administrator said Tuesday. 

The alert covers both airports and sea ports within the freeport that hosts cruise ships with stops in Southeast Asia, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said.

Concerns over the novel virus, which is believed to have originated from China, could hurt Subic's emerging status as a cruise destination as Costa Crociere, Royal Caribbean and Genting temporarily suspended operations, she said.

"As an emerging cruise ship destination in Southeast Asia, Subic expects to be adversely affected by this on-going health emergency," the statement said. 

The virus that allegedly originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan has infected over 2,700 globally. In the Philippines, at least 11 foreign tourists are in isolation due to suspected coronavirus infection.

As part of the global safety protocols, medical and quarantine officers are on board cruise ships from their last port of departure before arriving the Philippines to screen passengers on board, the SBMA said.

The SBMA and the Bureau of Quarantine also agreed to use the isolation facility at the Subic Bay International Airport, established during the SARS outbreak in 2003, if a suspected patient is identified. 

A Pampanga hospital was also designated as a "referral" facility for quarantined cases, the SBMA said. 

The following measures will also be imposed on arriving cruise ships in Subic: 

• All boarding authorities should wear face mask upon embarkation
• Passengers should wear face mask before disembarking
• Only essential staff will be on the dock. There will be no performers or well-wishers
• Limit the movement of tourists to within the Freeport only, if possible
• Persons who will be in contact with tourists, including bus and taxi drivers, will be advised to wear face masks.