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Ministry of Shipping puts over 200 ports in quarantine mode

Friday, 31 January 2020 | 00:00

The Union Ministry of Shipping has directed all States to put 204 minor and 12 major ports in quarantine mode to screen for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on ships docking from China.

The directive, issued by Abhishek Chandra, Director (Sagarmala), Ministry of Shipping, has warned the virus could have an “adverse impact” on India’s maritime economy. An immediate screening, detention and quarantine system should be put into effect including at the 65 EXIM cargo ports for disembarking seafarer and cruise passengers, the Union Ministry warned States on Wednesday.

As part of the quarantine facilities, the ports will have to immediately set up an isolation ward in their in-house hospitals. The quarantine ward could also be set up in a separate building whenever the need arises. The collection of throat swab will be done by district authority, while the port management will put in place a standard operating procedure for disease surveillance for the vessel and crew.

“The ports will have to obtain a self-declaration from the arriving crew and passengers. Additionally, you should install thermal scanners and provide N-95 masks for the disembarking seafarer and cruise passengers,” Mr. Chandra said in the letter to chief secretaries.

Most non-major ports in the country are now in the administrative control of the respective maritime States, while the ministry will hold a conference with all chief secretaries on Thursday. The Shipping Ministry has already appointed a nodal officer to coordinate with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the issue. As a precautionary measure, the Union Port Health Organisation under the ministry had on January 23 issued a warning note to all shipping agencies in the country, directing them to submit a maritime declaration of health for vessels coming from China and Hong Kong.

On January 17, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had told State governments that while the risk of global spread of the virus remains ‘low’, the Indian government was using this as an opportunity to review their preparedness and identify core capacities in the areas of surveillance, laboratory support and infection prevention. “All ports must take necessary steps and submit an action-taken report within 24 hours,” Mr Chandra said in his letter.
Source: The Hindu

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