The Philippines is struggling to find enough space for quarantined ships

Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam

TIMES FILE PHOTO: (File Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

The Philippines is grappling with a massive backlog of passenger and cargo ships that have been ordered to remain in ports for more than a week as a way to contain the spread of COVID-19.

With one-fourth of the Philippines’ nearly 20 million people infected with the virus as of Friday, the government is struggling to find enough space for additional arrivals. The country’s chief ports authority, the Bureau of Investments and Export Operations, has already put in some orders to help meet the backlog. But officials said that more companies and countries could not make room even after some of them had been ordered to quarantined.

The Department of Health (DOH) had already said there was a case of the coronavirus among a crew member from a vessel in the Philippines.

In addition to the passenger-ship carriers that are now being quarantined in the Philippines, the government has issued “preliminary” orders for 22 ships to remain in port for up to 100 days. Another 20 shipments could be held up if they do not have enough space to keep in port for the required period, the DOH said. By comparison, the passenger-shipping agency said earlier this week that it has enough space to accommodate the 10 ships currently in the ports.

But with many ports unable to accommodate additional ships, vessels that remain in port are being put up for auction, and some have been moved to other ports to alleviate the congestion.

“While the DOH has the ability to increase space for quarantine ships, the port authorities must also be more flexible and give some space to quarantined ships,” the DOH said.

The DOH said that the government had to consider that it is unlikely that an additional shipment will be in port for an extended period due to the high amount of cargo and passenger ship arrivals and departures in the region.

“The DOH and port authorities are working to identify any available and affordable shipping space in the nation to accommodate incoming and outgoing cargo and passenger ships,” the government said.

The government said it is considering whether it will request

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