India has imposed a 14-day quarantine on shipping vessels arriving from any port in China. The vessels arriving after 14 days of departure from a coronavirus-infected country are, however, not required to comply with the additional precautionary measures. Stoppages of a vessel at any port of the affected countries only for refuelling will not be considered for the calculation of 14 days.
These are part of the Directorate General of Shipping’s (DGS’s) guidelines for the ports in the country to deal with vessels and people on-board in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Shipping services are needed to be operational so that essential goods and commodities like fuel, medical supplies and food grains are delivered, and to ensure that the economic activity of the nation is not disrupted, the DGS said in its order.
Ports that are not able to comply with the specified requirements have been told not to allow berthing for vessels arrived within 14 days from the infected countries.
According to the order, the master of a vessel, before arrival at its first port of call in India, will ascertain the state of health of each person on board and submit a declaration to the health authorities of the port. If the maritime declaration of health given by the master is found to be incorrect and not reflecting the factual conditions of health of persons on board the vessel, the master is liable to be prosecuted in accordance with the applicable laws, it said.
Also, the Maritime Declaration of Health will be forwarded at least 72 hours prior to arrival of the vessel at the port. If the voyage duration from the last port of departure is less than 72 hours, the declaration will be informed to the port immediately on departure from the port, said the order.
Vessels having persons suspected of Covid-19 will necessarily be required to be monitored by the health authorities and put in quarantine, if the samples are tested positive. The vessel will remain in quarantine and the infected persons will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures laid down by the health ministry. Vessels with infected persons will also be sanitised according to the protocols for dealing with Covid-19 pandemic.
Between April and January, India’s major ports have handled 585.7 million tonnes of traffic, up 1.14 per cent from the same period last year.