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COVID-19: Chennai Port bans entry of crew from three countries

A glimpse of the Chennai port

A glimpse of the Chennai port  

Ships from vulnerable ports also prohibited from dumping 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.

P. Raveendran

P. Raveendran  

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 fever, throat infection or other 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. There is no need for any concern even if a container originating from China is unloaded here. But any ship, strongly suspected, will not be allowed to berth,” said Dr. Senthilnathan, who also supervises COVID-19 checks at non-major ports in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 2:25:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/port-bans-entry-of-ship-crew-from-three-countries/article30814624.ece

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