China is still in a nationwide fight against the spreading of COVID-2019, with various measures taken to reduce mobility of people such as transportation restrictions and city border control, etc. Currently, though the total number of confirmed cases is still increasing day by day, the number of new confirmed cases outside Hubei province has been going downward in the past two weeks.
We hereby summarize the current general situations and frequently asked issues as follows for your reference:
Transportation Restriction and City Border Control
At some big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, etc., anyone who has just travelled back from other places is required to quarantine oneself at home for 14 days.
At some smaller cities, local governments exercise strict border control, only allowing those with local ID card and/or those with local employment proof to cross the city border, and upon arrival at their homes, they should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days.
The above measures have slowed down the return of terminal staff and shipyard workers, resulting in a lower operation efficiency. They also caused difficulty in arranging the attendance of surveyors, service engineers, shipowner representatives, etc. at these ports.
It is expected that restriction measures will not be fully lifted for several more weeks. However, some provincial governments such as the one in Zhejiang province within which Ningbo and Zhoushan are located, are encouraging factories, ports and shipyards, etc. to resume normal operation gradually by providing convenience for the workers to return.
Crew change is still not allowed, unless for a special urgent need. Though the signing-off of Chinese crewmembers may be allowed at some ports, the replacement crewmembers most likely cannot embark a ship in China.
Generally, pilotage service, like other port-related services, is running normally though with enhanced precautionary measures.
However, in a few recent cases, we have seen difficulties in arranging pilotage service timely at some ports on the Yangtze river because of crewmembers’ recent travel history to Hubei or suspected symptoms such as fever.
As mentioned in our previous circulars, port operation keeps running as usual, but has been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in the following ways:
1. At many ports the terminal workers have had difficulties to return to work timely due to transportation restrictions. It is reported by domestic media that around half of the terminal workers have resumed work last week. Particularly, the lack of truck drivers has caused delay in cargo operation at some terminals.
2. At some ports such as Shanghai, Ningbo and Tianjin, because many reefer containers are not picked up timely upon their arrival, there has been a great shortage of reefer container plugs and thus newly arrived reefer containers cannot be discharged at their destination ports and have to be shipped to other ports nearby.
It is reported that port authorities are taking measures to solve the above problems.
Suspected COVID-19 case on board
Based on the recent suspected cases we have handled at various ports, if a crewmember is showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, he will be transported to a nearby designated hospital (at every place, there is a list of designated hospitals which receive COVID-19 suspected or confirmed patients) immediately by ambulance, after approval and under supervision of the port and quarantine authorities, for nucleic acid testing and possibly also CT scan of the lungs, in order to establish whether he has indeed contracted the virus or not. Currently, at all the ports, port authorities are highly alert of the spreading of the virus and will take urgent response if any suspected case is reported. The test result will be available within a few hours. Once the result shows that the crewmember is COVID-19 free, then the ship can carry on with her operation in a normal way.
Up to now, COVID-19 infected crewmembers were only found on inland river cargo ships where the crewmembers travelled to Hubei province before embarking the ships, and the ships were subsequently required to stay at quarantine anchorage for 14 days. No infection case has been found on ocean-going vessels yet, so the procedures and extent of quarantine measures are yet to be seen. But judging from the current requirements, we presume that if any infection is found on an ocean-going vessel, other crewmembers and other persons who have been in close contact with the infected crew will be quarantined for 14 days.
“Notice to the Master on Recommended Measures to Address COVID-19 Risks on Board” issued by China Maritime Safety Administration
In order to assist ships arriving at Chinese ports to understand the risks of COVID-19 and to take proper precautionary measures, China MSA has issued a “Notice to the Master on Recommended Measures to Address COVID-19 Risks on Board”, which is attached hereto for your reference.
We hope the above is of assistance. Should you have any query, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Oasis P&I Services Company Limited
Appendix: “Notice to the Master on Recommended Measures to Address COVID-19 Risks on Board” issued by China Maritime Safety Administration
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