Singapore port introduces new safety measures against COVID-19

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world, the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has introduced additional safety measures to Singapore’s port to limit the import of cases into the country.   In a statement on 24 July, MPA announced that Singapore has facilitated 300 crew change cases a day for July, all of which had been following “‘safe corridor’ procedures as detailed in the Singapore Crew Change Guidebook”, which was developed by an industry taskforce led by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), along with the Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union, and supported by the MPA. Within a week, Singapore has found three positive COVID-19 cases among arriving crew members who were assigned to ocean-going cargo ships, thus preventing shipping companies from conducting crew changes. Resources were then used to quarantine and limit the spread of the disease to others. MPA is collaborating with said industry taskforce in order to enhance safety measures for crew changes, as well as to ensure that current precautionary measures against COVID-19 are taken for crew members arriving in Singapore from other countries. Measures include a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) upon arrival in order to ensure accurate results from the COVID-19 tests, and direct transit from airport to crew members’ respective vessels in order to limit contact with members of the public.   In light of several breaches in the crew change procedure in Singapore, MPA is also seeking the cooperation of the industry in order to safeguard the safety of crew changes and to limit the spread of COVID-19. They have done so by reminding stakeholders to ensure that ‘safe-corridor’ procedures are fully adhered to as well as for affected crew members to comply with the SHN and self-isolate.   Furthermore, MPA also added that “any ship owner, manager or agent whose crew member is found to be COVID-19 positive whilst in Singapore for crew change will be suspended from performing any further crew changes for a stipulated period”, which will allow companies time to make sure that its internal policies are in line with MPA’s crew change procedures.   Due to an increasing number of crew change applications, MPA would also be prioritising new crew change applications, including “crew with expiry of contracts which flag States are not extending further, Singapore-registered ships, and crew sign-offs.”   Shore personnel interacting with ship crew or working on the ships have been tasked to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face shields, goggles, masks and gloves. Shore personnel have also been advised not to interact with crew members of ships who had conducted crew change within the last 14 days.   MPA has issued a list of best practices for crew changes to all Singapore-registered ships that they can adopt in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and will continue to monitor the situation in order to best handle it as it evolves.   Source: Seatrade Maritime Additional information: MPA

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