Handout photo shows cargo vessel MV Harmony 6.
Philippine Coast Guard, Handout
Cargo vessel from virus-hit China under probe for 'misrepresentation'
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 28, 2020 - 2:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard said it is investigating a cargo vessel with travel history to China after its captain allegedly declared false information on the ship’s clearance details.

PCG said the Panama-flagged MV Harmony 6 arrived in Changzhou, China on February 13 and left on February 18. The cargo ship arrived in the Philippines on February 23.

But the vessel’s captain, Vietnamese national Luu Van Loi, declared that it left China on February 18 in order to fit into the 14-day quarantine period being implemented in all major ports in the Philippines as a measure against COVID-19.

All vessels from any country with reported cases of the potentially deadly coronavirus disease must be quarantined for 14 days from its date of departure to its arrival to the Philippine waters before the Bureau of Quarantine may conduct health inspection of the crew members.  

Health inspection is needed for the issuance of port clearance.

“However, due to the captain’s misrepresentation of its date of departure from China, the BOQ team boarded the vessel to conduct the health inspection among its 18 Vietnamese and five Indian crew in just six days, instead of the required 14-day quarantine period,” PCG said.

‘Turned off’ AIS

The Automatic Identification System of the vessel was allegedly turned off from February 19 until its arrival to the Philippine waters, PCG said.

AIS provides information about a ship to other ships to maritime authorities automatically.

The PCG command center and the National Coast Watch Center alerted the port state control group in La Union about the alleged misrepresentation and the turning off of the vessel’s AIS on February 24, hours after the BOQ conducted health inspection of the ship’s crew members.

The vessel is “under temporary detention” at the anchorage area La Union while investigation into the possible violations is ongoing.

The virus has proliferated across the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica. 

The disease killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide—the vast majority in China—since it emerged late last year. 

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