New Covid-19 test lab for crew change hub now operational

Health, National

MANILA – A reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) molecular testing laboratory, dedicated to testing seafarers for the Covid-19 disease, and located at South Harbor, Port of Manila is now operational.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Jay Santiago said the laboratory is designated as the “primary seafarer processing center” for all inbound and outbound seafarers in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

“The South Harbor Molecular Laboratory is intended to serve the testing requirements for crew change among  seafarers in the Port of Manila and Port Capinpin in Orion, Bataan, and soon, the Port of Batangas,” Santiago said.

The PPA chief said the laboratory has a daily testing capacity of about 2,000 with a 24 to 48-hour turnaround time for test results.

Santiago said the facility also provides a “one-stop-shop” that houses satellite offices of the Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Customs, and the Philippine Coast Guard to ease and speed up the processing of travel requirements for inbound and outbound seafarers.

In the last four months, PPA said nearly a thousand ships have berthed at the Port of Manila for crew changes, since  the laboratory helps further ease and ensure the safe movement of both local and foreign seafarers in the country.

The Philippines now has three ports dedicated to crew change or the replacement of seafarers aboard a ship—the Port of Manila, Port of Capinpin, and Subic Bay Freeport.

To further promote their efficiency as crew change hubs, the Department of Foreign Affairs has also initiated the establishment of “green lanes” for seafarers in the hubs that help accelerate their movement, as well as support the international maritime sector.

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