Gov’t identifies RT-PCR facility for Port of Manila

The Transportation department, through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), has taken some measures to prevent future incidents where Filipino seafarers were later found positive for COVID-19 after reaching their port of destinations.

Port of Manila, Philippines | Photo source:

In a memorandum dated October 22, 2000, the One Stop Shop (OSS) at the Port of Manila has asked licensed manning companies (LMAs) to furnish it with “a copy of the Department of Health (DOH) certificate of the testing/molecular laboratory being engaged/contracted by your respective agency.”

The memorandum is apparently addressed to all LMAs and shipping agents seafarers who have joined foreign vessels conducting crew change at the Port of Manila.  It is signed by Manila Port Manager Eligio Fortajada, who also heads the OSS Port of Manila.  

The memorandum adds:  “Furthermore, to ensure that our country’s onsigners are COVID-19 free, we urge you to have them undergo RT-PCR test at First Aide Molecular Laboratory located at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila.

After their testing, the onsigners would “be isolated at nearby Eva Macapagal Terminal while awaiting result prior to boarding their vessels,” the memorandum continued.

The move is most likely precipitated by recent reports from Western Australia, where Filipino crewmembers of several ore carriers were tested positive for COVID after their ships changed crew in Manila earlier.

The latest among the vessel is Key Integrity, which left Manila on October 6 after 13 Filipino crew joined the ore carrier and arrived and arrived at Geraldton in Western Australia. Two of Key Integrity’s 20-man crew turned positive when tested

Earlier, some Filipino crewmembers of Vega Dream and Patricia Oldendorff also turned COVID positive after they were tested at Port Hedland.

The Western Australia Today reported that due to these developments, Australian mining companies had decided not to hire Filipino seafarers at the moment.

The problem with the OSS-Manila memorandum, some countries have accredited RT-PCR testing facilities and First Aide Molecular Laboratory has yet to secure the needed accreditation.

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