At a time when the world is readying to take the necessary precautions to fight the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the Directorate General of Shipping has come out with rules to ensure that trade goes on amid the coronavirus scare.
Shipping services are required to continue to be operational so that vital goods and essential commodities like fuel, medical supplies, food grains etc, are delivered and to ensure that the economic activity of the nation is not disrupted.
According to the DG Shipping order to all stakeholders, which include major as well minor ports, the master of a vessel, before arrival at its first port of call in India, shall ascertain the state of health of each person on board on the vessel 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 line with applicable laws.
All the agents of the vessel therefore shall ensure that information regarding possible prosecution for incorrect declaration is clearly informed to the vessel before its arrival at Indian ports, said DG Shipping.
The Maritime Declaration of Health shall be forwarded at least 72 hours prior arrival of the vessel at the port.
If the voyage duration from last port of departure is less than 72 hours, the Maritime Declaration of Health shall be informed at 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 necessary.
If the samples are tested positive, the vessel will remain in quarantine and the infected persons will be dealt with according to the procedures laid down by the Ministry of Health. Vessels with infected person shall also be sanitized in line with the extant protocols for dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.
The format of the Maritime Declaration of Health is issued by World Health Organisation which has also been adopted by International Maritime Organisation, informed DG Shipping.
Meanwhile, vessels arriving from ports of infected countries identified for mandatory quarantine and travel ban by the government need to comply with additional measures.
Vessels arriving from any port in China are required to undergo the necessary quarantine of 14 days.
Stoppages of a vessel at any port of infected countries only for bunkering purposes shall not be counted for the calculation of 14 days from port of departure.
Also, vessels that have arrived at Indian port after 14 days of departure from an infected port need not comply with the additional precautionary measures. Ports which are not able not comply with the additional requirements specified shall not allow the vessels to berth for vessels which have arrived within 14 days from the infected countries.
Pilot, which is deployed by the port on to the vessel at berth, shall normally not be assigned to any vessel unless pratique is granted to the vessel.
The master of the vessel shall also ensure that all the areas through which the pilot is likely to pass are appropriately disinfected and sanitized as per the required protocol and shall further confirm about the same to the pilot before the pilot boards the vessel.
All ships personnel who are likely to interact with the pilot should be wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In addition, the bridge team shall be wearing appropriate PPE at all times while the pilot is on the vessel. Pilot shall also be wearing appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Ports are required to ensure that number of personnel to board the vessel should be kept at minimal.
Vessels using only Indian ports need not follow all the instructions mentioned in the order, but need to carry out a due diligence process.