Transnet introduces strict protocols at ports to curb spread of coronavirus

A man wears a mask while walking in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Photo by Getty Images)
A man wears a mask while walking in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Photo by Getty Images)

Transnet has implemented additional protocols for all vessels entering SA ports in a bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state-owned company said on Friday.

It has instituted "strict health measures" and is working with the department of health and National Institute of Communicable Diseases to monitor the outbreak, said spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe.

The new measures include that all foreign vessels must receive free pratique (health clearance) by the Port Health Department, and details of the last 10 ports of call are to be recorded.

No crew will be taken off a vessel without clearance from Port Health, and a thorough sweep of stowaways will be done. If any stowaways are found, the vessel will have to remain at anchor until the stowaways are cleared, Likhethe said.

A separate list of vessels calling from affected areas are being recorded, and during the warning period, all SA citizens – including marine pilots – are banned from consuming foods and liquids on board vessels from high-risk areas.

If an infection is reported on board a vessel, the vessel will be allowed to dock, but nobody will be allowed on board until Port Health has cleared the vessel.

All waste from vessels from affected areas will be incinerated and not accepted ashore.

Meanwhile, yachts arriving from all areas will need to report to the SA Police Services and Port Health, with the skipper and crew remaining isolated on board until cleared by Port Health.

Key staff will also be equipped with medical masks and gloves when receiving vessels from affected areas and have been briefed on procedure when going on board, according to Transnet.  

"The Coronavirus has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation. Transnet is the custodian of ports and terminals in the country and it is responsible for monitoring all vessels," Likhethe added.

"Additionally, Transnet port health employees have been sensitised to government’s national response plan to diagnose infected persons and refer them to designated sites/hospitals." 

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