The new strain circulating in the United Kingdom puts Philippines on alert; resuming crew change restrictions
Suspected to have mutated as early as last September, the strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible. First detected in South Africa, the virus has found its way into Denmark, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Australia since December, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Philippines – a top destination for crew changes during the pandemic has paused crew change, applicable for seafarers who have been across 21 countries for two weeks prior to arriving in the Southeast Asian nation.
In a Facebook post, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced the crew change halt through to 15 January for any seafarer who passed Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the United States recently. PPA also indicated there might be more nations added to the list, and the halt may extend beyond the stipulated date.
PPA explained, “The changes are being imposed by the country as a safety net to contain the possible entry of the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in the country through crew change.” As at 5 January 2021, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has announced a new lockdown in a bid to curb the spreading.