TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore strengthens maritime sector COVID-19 regulations

Two new cases were recorded on 30 and 31 December 2020.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has beefed up COVID-19-related regulations for shore-based personnel boarding ships. This comes in light of two recent infections, involving a marine surveyor and a harbour pilot, both of which tested positive on 30 and 31 December, respectively, 

All shore-based personnel boarding ships now need to take a COVID-19 PCR test, according to a joint statement by the MPA, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Ministry of Health (MOH). This will cover some 20,000 personnel.

Then, they will be tested every seven days, instead of 14.

“MPA also requires all shore-based personnel to give MPA advance notice before they board ships to carry out works or provide services,” the statement added, stressing that the MPA would take firm action against any non-compliances from ship owners, masters, or agents.

In minimising shore-based personnel’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 at work, the MPA promulgated the Port Marine Circular 35 of 2020 on 24 August 2020. This listed all precautionary measures personnel going onboard should take, such as “wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), shortening the duration of stay onboard to minimise exposure, no overnight stay onboard, avoiding interactions with crew, having designated work and rest area that is segregated from crew, no loitering in crew living and common area, bringing and consuming own individually packed food and drinks and consuming meals separate from the ship’s crew and not sharing food/drinks with the crew.”

As for shipyards, the EDB has launched mandatory precautionary measures last 21 December 2020. “Shipyards should only issue shipyard acceptance letters to ships seeking repairs when a ship is compliant with these measures,” the joint statement said. “In addition, shipyards should only allow shore-based personnel to board a ship for work when all crew have been tested negative for COVID-19 infection on arrival at the shipyard.”

Moreover, as announced by the MOH on 31 December 2020, a special testing operation would be held for all workers who had boarded the ships the marine surveyor and harbour pilot — who tested positive for COVID-19 — had worked on.

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