Port bans en­try of ship crew from 3 coun­tries

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - S. Vi­jay Ku­mar

The Chen­nai Port has ad­vised all agen­cies in the city to bar the en­try of crew on board ships from China, in­clud­ing Hong Kong and Ma­cau, Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore by stop­ping the is­sue of land­ing per­mit or shore leave pass. The ships, con­sid­ered vul­ner­a­ble to the spread of coro­n­avirus, were pro­hib­ited from dump­ing their garbage.

The Chen­nai Port has ad­vised all agen­cies in the city to ban the en­try of crew on board ships from China, in­clud­ing Hong Kong and Ma­cau, Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore into In­dia by stop­ping the is­sue of land­ing per­mit or shore leave pass. The ships, con­sid­ered vul­ner­a­ble to the spread of the coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19), were also pro­hib­ited from dump­ing their garbage.

“We have de­cided to tem­po­rar­ily pre­vent the en­try of crew mem­bers on board ships from three coun­tries, ir­re­spec­tive of their na­tion­al­i­ties or health con­di­tions. The ships will not be per­mit­ted to dump their garbage here. The de­ci­sion is part of the stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure (SOP) de­vised af­ter the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion de­clared the spread of the virus a pub­lic health emergency,” Chen­nai Port Trust chair­man P. Raveen­dran told The Hindu on Thurs­day.

Be­sides check­ing the coun­tries vis­ited by the ships, health of­fi­cials have been closely mon­i­tor­ing the health con­di­tion of the crew of all ships call­ing at the Chen­nai Port. Mas­ters of Cap­tains have been shar­ing the health con­di­tion of the crew via email, on a daily ba­sis, as the ship ap­proaches the In­dian coast. Where there was any sus­pi­cion on any mem­ber of the crew suf­fer­ing from symp­toms of COVID-19, his/her vi­su­als were called for via email.

Mr. Raveen­dran said that a spe­cial team, headed by chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Raja Ravi Varma and port health of­fi­cer Senthilnat­han, was screen­ing the crew of in­com­ing ships, with more fo­cus on those orig­i­nat­ing from the three coun­tries con­sid­ered risky. Ad­e­quate num­bers of N-95 face masks, per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) kits, ther­mal scan­ners and gloves were pro­cured for all front-line staff and health of­fi­cials to deal with the threat of COVID-19.

Stake­holder

“The SOP was chalked out by con­sult­ing all stake­hold­ers, and roles/re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of other agen­cies like the Cus­toms, Im­mi­gra­tion, Coast Guard and Navy, were clearly de­fined. An iso­la­tion ward has been cre­ated at the Port Hos­pi­tal to quar­an­tine sus­pected COVID-19-af­fected pa­tients and an am­bu­lance po­si­tioned on the premises round-the-clock. We have screened 10 ships and 194 crew mem­bers at Chen­nai and En­nore ports,” he said.

Mr. Raveen­dran said that the COVID-19 is­sue had not af­fected nor­mal business of im­port/ex­port. No ship was turned away be­cause of its ori­gin from the five coun­tries and health of­fi­cials so far have not re­ported any case of sus­pected COVID-19.

“This virus can spread only though hu­mans and not by any ma­te­rial. But any ship, strongly sus­pected, will not be al­lowed to berth,” said Dr. Senthilnat­han.

P. Raveen­dran

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