Precautionary steps against coronavirus

The Namibian Port Authority has advised officials to be extra cautious, to remain vigilant and to adopt good hygiene practices.

11 February 2020 | Health

Port captain Lukas Kufuna issued a memorandum advising ship captains, ship agents, shore skippers and skippers of health advisory measures introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, Durban Port Health has advised that all vessels arriving directly from China be quarantined as a precautionary measure to prevent the possible spread of infection since carriers of the virus can be asymptomatic.

Kaufuna said that NamPort thought it prudent to implement procedures to safeguard staff against exposure and the threat posed by visiting vessels from China, Thailand, Japan and some African countries. He advised officials to be extra cautious, to remain vigilant and to adopt good hygiene practices at all times.

Officials boarding a vessel are required to confirm the health status of the crew with the captain. Boarding officers have also been instructed to wear face masks and gloves when boarding high risk vessels that have been to China.

Security personnel have been instructed to check International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) pre-arrival notification. This contains minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and government agencies.

Having come into force in 2004, it prescribes responsibilities to governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, and port/facility personnel to “detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade”.

Kaufuna requested that Port Control be contacted to confirm Free Pratique has been received and enquire about the last three ports of call prior to boarding a vessel.

As from the end of last month, a declaration is required from the Port Health department for all off port limit transfers. All off port limit crew from affected areas must be carefully screened and no crew may be taken off a vessel without clearance from Port Health. Any medical evacuations from vessels from affected areas have to be screened by Port Health before a person is taken off the vessel.

The captain of a vessel must confirm in writing that a stowaway sweep was conducted before departing the last port. A stowaway search may be requested when alongside at the vessel’s cost, using specialist companies whose staff have undergone Coronavirus Disease training and/or awareness.

Masters must inform port control of any reported stowaways from vessels calling from affected areas. In the case of stowaways being reported, the vessel must remain at anchor until cleared by Port Health for entry. Stowaways must be examined and all involved in the evacuation of infected crew or stowaways must be trained by Port Health on the coronavirus.

Additional security must also be deployed by the agent for any contaminated vessels.

Only Port Health officials will be allowed on board a contaminated vessel and only after clearance is given will a person be permitted to enter the vessel.

If possible, a contaminated vessel should be allocated an isolated berth away from other vessels and all galley waste of vessels from affected areas must be incinerated and should not be accepted ashore.

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