BY JUDY F. PARTLOW
Barge trips to and from the Bato wharf in Samboan, Cebu, and Tampi wharf in Amlan, Negros Oriental continue even as an agency-hired security guard at one of the terminals and his family were found positive of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Dante Uymatiao, manager of Maayo Shipping Inc., the company that operates six vessels a day between both ports, yesterday confirmed that the security guard assigned at the Bato port had tested positive for Covid-19.
He said over the weekend, the security guard was already “not feeling well” and did not report for duty on Monday.
The guard underwent throat-swab testing. The result was released the following day by a testing facility in Cebu City, Uymatiao said.
The security guard and his family are now under quarantine in Samboan and contact tracing is being undertaken, he added.
The municipal doctor of Samboan had initially wanted to shut down the operations of Maayo Shipping, which Uymatiao did not oppose “to follow the health protocols.”
“I don’t have a choice but to put the health and welfare of the people ahead of financial gains,” Uymatiao said.
“But remember, the barges are also carrying essential goods so many will be affected by this,” he said.
After having made arrangements with the authorities in Samboan, Cebu and Negros Oriental, Uymatiao said the barge operations will continue with an average of six trips a day on full capacity.
He reassured the public that proper disinfection of the barge is undertaken before and after each trip, while health protocols, such as thermal scanning, are also done.
Passengers are allowed onboard only if they have complied with the necessary requirements, such as presenting a medical certificate of good health, a travel authority, certificate of acceptance from the receiving local government unit, and a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result, among others, he said.
Aside from essential goods, locally stranded individuals are allowed on the barge trips scheduled every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Uymatiao said.
As a precautionary measure, he also said anti-flu vaccine has been administered to all of their personnel.*JFP/PNA