The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is pulling out all stops in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and in helping passenger vessel companies tide over this difficult period. The implemented measures are showing success, slowly but surely. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports
MPA has implemented temperature screening, conducted by on-site healthcare assistants, at all sea checkpoints, including ferry and cruise terminals, PSA Terminals and Jurong Port, for inbound crews and travelers from 24 January 2020. Suspected cases will be referred to the hospitals for further assessment.
On 29 January 2020, there was a confirmed case of an infected crew member who was working onboard a cargo ship, which arrived in the Port of Singapore from China. Since then, MPA, the National Environment Agency’s Port Health and the Ministry of Health worked together to have the crew member treated, the remaining crew onboard the ship quarantined for 14 days, and the ship cleaned and disinfected.
The infected crew member has since made a full recovery and returned home. The remaining crew have served their quarantine and they have remained asymptomatic throughout.
On 12 February, Port Health granted free pratique (the license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from the captain that the ship is free from contagious disease) to the cargo ship after it had met all the health requirements. The ship has since departed Singapore after taking stores, supplies and spares at the anchorage.
To help provide relief to vessel owners and operators who have seen a decrease in passenger volumes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, MPA will be giving a 50 percent port dues concession to passenger vessels. The new concession, to be given from 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020, will be on top of all existing port dues concessions.
All cruise vessels and regional ferries with a port stay of not more than five days, and passenger-carrying harbor craft will qualify for the new concession. It is expected to benefit more than 600 cruise vessels, regional ferries and passenger-carrying harbor craft, bringing total savings of over S$1 million in the six-month period.
Cargo and passenger operations remain unaffected with port operations carrying on as normal.