Coping with Covid-19 at sea

Jerra Mae Librea

MOST of the public transportation was temporarily suspended as more and more gets infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), but some have just to continue to keep the life flowing.

Seafarers continue to cross borders and transport goods to different ports in the world just so everybody gets what they need to fight this pandemic.

But despite the risk they are facing, they often get discriminated in ports they stopped to load and unload cargos.

Dick Andro Ferrolino, a Cebuano seafarer, shared that he, and some of his crewmates, were treated “badly” when their vessel docked in a port in New Zealand.

Ferrolino shared that some of the crane operators, who boarded their vessel, “seemed to avoid” them.

“Di sila moduol namo or ila mi papahawaon kung muagi sila,” Ferrolino recalled.

“They think we carry the virus. It is, somehow, kind of discrimination,” he added.

With most of the cities on lockdown, the change of crew on board was also postponed due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) being implemented in most cities in the country.

Ferrolino was supposed to finish his contract in April, but due to the implementation of ECQ in Luzon and Cebu Province, there is no assurance he can go home yet.

The same happened to Jay Cana, a cook in a cargo vessel that is currently in China, he was also supposed to complete his contract in April.

“Stress doesn’t just describe it. For us, who should be signing off this month, it’s like prolonging the agony of defeat,” said Cana.

Since the coronavirus became pandemic, Cana said their cargo handling and deliveries became rough, especially deliveries to and from affected areas.

He, though, emphasized that his company and everyone in their vessel have protocols to follow as their precautionary measures.

As the number of deaths continues to climb and confirmed infections of Covid-19 patients keep rising, news from home comes handy, especially that with the limited internet connection they barely contact their families.

Ruben Garces, who is from Cebu City and who is currently in China, said it worries him that he is not with his family at this time of the pandemic.

“With the crisis that’s happening right now, especially in the Philippines, first of all, I am worried about my family because, in times like this, I should be with them but I can’t do anything because this is my line of work,” said Garces.

Ferrolino, Cana, and Garces are among of the 400,000 Filipino seafarers who wish to be with their families during this pandemic, but chose to continue working at seas to ensure goods are being delivered from one port to another.