Web alert: Ivory Coast Authorities lift port restrictions in place in response to Ebola threat and general West Africa update
18 August 2014
This Web Alert covers measures taken by West African nations in response to the Ebola outbreak – namely Ivory Coast; Nigeria; Gabon and Cape Verde; the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) response and other general advice to Members.
Members are advised that the Ivory Coast has both enacted restrictions for vessels in its waters originating from countries deemed to have an Ebola risk, and then lifted these shortly thereafter. A meeting took place on 13 August between the Abidjan Port Authority, Ivory Coast Government and interested third parties to discuss measures to control access to the port for vessels posing a potential Ebola infection risk. The decisions taken in that meeting have subsequently been reversed in the attached notice, but the below were measures briefly in place (PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING ARE NO LONGER IN FORCE SO ARE FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THIS APPLIES TO ADVICE REGARDING IVORY COAST ONLY):
- Any vessels which have called at a country where there is a confirmed epidemic of Ebola, must not call at Abidjan port within a 21 day period from the date of departure from the affected country. Any vessels which have called at an affected country arriving within this excluded period will be directed to remain in the outer roads.
- Vessels arriving from countries affected by Ebola must compulsorily alert the port authorities of this fact and must present crew to the authorities while on board the vessel in the outer roads for examination by Health Officials. Authorisation to enter the port will only be given if such examinations reveal no infection on board.
- Any vessels which have not called at an Ebola affected country within 21 days prior to arrival at Abidjan will be authorised to enter the port after completion of the usual formalities.
- In the event that Ebola is suspected to be present on board a vessel, it will be immediately put into quarantine in the outer roads in order for the crew members to be submitted to medical examination and assistance by Health Officials.
As per the attached notice, a further announcement is expected shortly from the Ivory Coast Authorities.
The Nigerian Authorities have released a notice stating that the port is unaffected by Ebola at this time and remains open, however unofficial recommendation has stated that vessels from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia may face restrictions on entering Nigerian ports, but no official statement has been made to this effect.
In a meeting on 14 August, the Gabon Authorities issued the following advice:
- Any vessel calling in the ports of Gabon shall send to the Port Master’s office, three (3) days prior to her arrival, an exhaustive list of all the ports the vessel has called during the thirty (30) days preceding her ETA;
- Any vessel coming from or having called in at least one of the ports of countries currently hit by the Ebola and with no person of Gabonese citizenship is forbidden to call in the ports of Gabon;
- Wearing of gloves is compulsory for all persons in contact with any vessel and her crew. Any person not wearing gloves will be prevented from accessing the vessel;
- The health inspectors of the National Institute of Public Hygiene and Sanitation will board berthing vessels at the same time as the pilots;
- Access to a vessel is forbidden to any person before the health inspectors of the National Institute of Public Hygiene and Sanitation have disembarked;
- No crew member is allowed to exit the port limits until further notice. No crew change is authorized until further notice.
There have been unconfirmed reports that a vessel was restricted from entering port in Cape Verde and was quarantined following a call in an Ebola affected country.
In a further development, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued a statement dated 10 August advising that no Filipino seafarer will be allowed ashore at ports of countries affected by the outbreak, nor will any crew deployments take place in those countries.
Members should continue to follow the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice on Ebola on its website and should adhere to national government and port authority advice. They are also directed to comply with the advice issued by the International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council and the International Transport Workers’ Federation - these notices can be accessed via their respective websites, or read here.
The situation is changing quickly and, as can be seen from the reversal of the Ivory Coast measures above, it is important to have up to date information prior to any call in West Africa, or any port worldwide as further measures are implemented in relation to Ebola. Any queries should be directed to Members’ usual contacts at the Club or to the Club’s Correspondents: T.C.I. Africa C.I. – contact details are available on the Club’s website.
An increased risk of piracy may be presented by vessels’ enforced stay outside port limits in high risk areas and Members are reminded that the Club has significant expertise in such risks and can offer both Kidnap and Ransom and Loss of Hire cover in partnership with Hiscox and Control Risks. This cover is available to Members of the Standard Club with the benefit of our shared expertise combined with Club-style service. However, if the Member has an entry in the Standard Club and other ships insured elsewhere then we will consider providing this cover for those other ships. Members’ usual Club contacts will be happy to discuss this further.