Seafarers travel to Panjim for COVID test

Margao: With the South Goa District Hospital laboratory putting a stop on COVID testing, the seafarers who have started receiving call letters for joining duty are forced to go all the way to private labs in Panjim for testing before they go onboard the ship.

Hoping that a vaccine or medicine will be discovered soon the shipping companies have started asking their staff to be ready to join their duty by September or October. The ships are in anchorage and keeping the ship with minimum manning.

The seafarers are proceeding to Panjim for testing as a certified doctor’s covering letter is required to join back duty.

The Goa Seamen Association of India, President Frank Viegas said he has asked the seafarers to keep their documents ready in case they receive calls to join duty.

“The brighter side is that the companies which have started calling back staff are taking utmost care to ensure that no person joining duty turns out to be COVID positive and if he does, he will be kept in isolation,” said Frank.

However, there are some Goan seafarers on Merchant navy and cargo ships who still remain at sea completing voyages of almost 15 months or more.

“The families of these seafarers have started asking for help from the associations. However, the problem with the cargo ships is that they don’t have fixed ports which is delaying the repatriation of some seafarers,” Frank added. [H]