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News: Coronavirus update - ports continue to impose additional requirements due to the Coronavirus

26 February 2020

Numerous ports in and around South Asia and the Far East continue to impose additional requirements due to the Coronavirus. India is a major business and tourist travel hub and a substantial importer of goods from China, and members will be aware that the authorities in India have put a number of measures in place to seek to control the spread of the virus.

In terms of travel to India generally, members are asked to note that authorities have directed that foreigners who have visited China on or after 15 January 2020 will not be allowed to enter India from any air, land or sea port. Further, existing visas (including eVisa already issued) are no longer valid for any foreign national travelling from China.

In relation to vessels calling at Indian ports, authorities have issued revised standard operating procedures for pre-arrival preparations which must be carried out before ships arrive at Indian ports which members are asked to carefully consider, available on the right. These include disinfection of the bridge, meeting rooms, and door handles and hand rails to the meeting rooms. Further, stevedores’ access to the accommodation of the ship is restricted, and the tally room and toilet for stevedores must be disinfected. Stevedores, surveyors and owners’ representatives also only have access to the meeting rooms. No work can be done by the Master, Chief Officer or Chief Engineer in their cabins. A request must be made of authorities for a sick person (even if their condition is not known) to visit the ship. Further, the wearing of masks, and keeping of distance from people appearing ill, is recommended in certain circumstances.

Further, local agents for vessels calling at Indian ports from China and Hong Kong to India are required to submit a declaration of health in advance of the vessel’s arrival.

The revised standard operating procedures available on the right, also sets out the requirements of certain ports under the watch of PHO Chennai. Members should note that different port authorities in India have their own requirements. These could include cancellation of shore leave for crew, restrictions on crew changes e.g. Chinese crew or those who embarked in China, compulsory boarding by the PHO in cases of suspected or actual coronavirus infection and/or prohibition on clearance of rubbish or sewage from vessels that have called at Chinese or other Far Eastern countries. Further, certain records may have to be kept of the crew, and detailed information provided to the authorities.

Members are therefore advised to liaise with agents as far in advance as possible to ensure that the requirements of central authorities and particular ports are complied with in full, to avoid potentially significant delays. Members should also check in advance the availability of supplies and bunkers in case additional notice is required to order them.