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Coronavirus: 16k passengers holed up in ships at Indian ports

By Namita Tewari
Last updated on: March 06, 2020 00:12 IST
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As many as 16,076 crew members and passengers onboard ships from China or having travelled to coronavirus-hit countries have been scanned and not allowed to disembark at Indian ports as a precautionary step, a shipping ministry official said on Thursday.

IMAGE: A passenger wearing a mask arrives at Birsa Munda airport in Ranch. Photograph: ANI Photo

However, all possible assistance and help are being provided to them -- onboard 452 ships anchored at designated places -- as per World Health Organization guidelines in case of any fever or symptoms.

"As many as 452 ships with EXIM cargo and 16,076 crew and passengers have arrived at Indian ports so far from China or a travel history to countries affected from coronavirus. As a precautionary measure to prevent any outbreak, we have not allowed the passengers and crew to disembark but ships were allowed to anchor at designated places. The cargo was brought with all precautions.

"No shore pass is being issued to the crew/seafarers having travel history from the infected countries," the official said.

The official said that as per WHO guidelines, scanning of all aboard on the vessels are being done and all necessary facilities are being extended to them.

The protocol is being maintained with all help in case of fever or sickness to those on board.

 

The official added that at Paradip port a crew member onboard Chemstar Stellar developed fever, and he along with his wife were evacuated and transferred to SCB Medical College, Cuttack for further testing.

The vessel had departed from Zapu, China on February 10 and had reached Paradip Port on March 1.

Enroute, it had been to South Korea and finally departed from Singapore on February 25 and reached Paradip Port limits on March 1.

The official said that earlier two crew members on board MV Magnate from China had fever during scanning on February 19 at berthing and their samples later tested negative for COVID-19.

Prior to this, a Filipino crew on board MV Boudicca was detected with COVID-19 like symptoms and was kept in isolation at the ship's hospital, the official said, adding that the sample of the crew sent to Kasturba Hospital, Mumbai was found negative.

All required protocols are being followed.

India has 12 major ports -- Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) -- that handled 699.04 MT of cargo during 2018-19.

There are about 200 non-major ports under the control of states.

The government last month had directed all 12 major ports to immediately put in place screening, detection and quarantine system for disembarking seafarers and cruise passengers as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

The ministry of shipping has said it has issued necessary directions to the 12 major ports to "place a screening, detection and quarantine system immediately for disembarking Seafarers or Cruise Passengers".

Directions had also been issued to ports to procure N-95 masks as well as thermal scanners to screen passengers, besides obtaining self-declaration from arriving crews/passengers.

In India, 30 positive cases have been reported so far, including 16 Italian tourists. Globally, the virus has claimed over 3,000 lives besides infecting more than 90,000 people.

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Namita Tewari
Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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