Chinese cargo ship kept off shore at Vizag port, crew to be screened for coronavirus
Amidst a nationwide scare over oronavirus, a cargo ship coming from China has been kept off shore of Bay of Bengal by the Visakhapatnam Port Trust authorities on Friday, pending a thorough medical screening of the crew of the ship.
The bulk carrier vessel – Fortune Hero – from China, carrying 17 Chinese and five Myanmar nationals on board, reached Visakhapatnam around midnight on Wednesday, but was not allowed to enter the port, though it had booked a berth well in advance.
“As per the official protocol issued in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus across the world, ships coming from affected countries like China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Bangkok are not supposed to be allowed into the port for disembarking passengers or unloading material, unless the crew are thoroughly screened for the virus,” Visakhapatnam Port Trust deputy chairman P L Harinath told Hindustan Times.
Particularly, if the duration of travel is less than 14 days, there is a possibility of the crew of the ships carrying the virus and so, they would not be permitted to enter the port and they would be quarantined. “Only after 15 days, when we ensure that there are no virus-affected people in the ship, we shall give them a berth,” he said.
The cargo vessel Fortune Hero arrived from China within 14 days. “So, we did not allow it into the port for one day and it has anchored deep in the sea, about four to five kilometres away from the shore. Later, as per protocol, the master of the cargo ship sent a declaration to the port authorities stating that none of the 22 people on board were infected with Coronavirus,” the port official said.
On Friday, a senior health official belonging to the Visakhapatnam Port Trust left for the ship to personally crosscheck the details furnished by the ship’s master that none of the crew was infected.
“The health official was given full protection cover and was equipped with a thermal gun and other material to test the Coronavirus. He would thoroughly examine each person on board and only after he certified that all the people were not suffering from Coronavirus, shall we allow the ship to enter the port at the allotted berth,” Harinath said.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh government issued a health bulletin in the afternoon saying out of 24 samples tested till date, 20 samples had tested negative. The results of the four samples sent for test on Friday, were awaited.
In all, 361 passengers who arrived from virus-affected countries have been identified till now and were placed under surveillance. Of them, 130 people are under home isolation and 218 people have completed the 28 days observation period and they have all been declared unaffected. Another 13 passengers are in hospital with symptoms but tested negative.