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Ports take precautions against Coronavirus

Ports and port operators across the world are taking precautions as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Despite a Chinese Ministry of Transport order for port operators to keep ship active, agents and brokers have reported an operational slowdown at Chinese ports and shipyards, according to Splash247.com. It stated that vessel turnaround times have slowed down and storage yard goods are not being processed as quickly due to a reduction in stevedores and truck drivers.

The spread of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China and has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), prompted the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) to offer ‘force majeure’ certificates to companies struggling to cope with the impact of coronavirus on their business with overseas partners, said Reuters.

“Some Chinese companies have suffered severe impacts on goods and logistics and may not be able to fulfil their contracts amid the coronavirus,” the CCPIT said in a statement.

Widespread caution

In a circular issued 1 February, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it has implemented temperature screening at all sea checkpoints, including ferry and cruise terminals, PSA terminals and Jurong Port, for inbound travellers.

It added that some shipping companies have taken additional precautionary measures such as disallowing shore  leave  for personnel  in  China ports,  mandatory  temperature checks, keeping a log of crew movements and restricting staff travel to China.

DP World has also suspended all staff travel to China until further notice.

Ports outside of Asia are also taking a cautionary approach. Transnet SOC Ltd has implemented additional procedures for all vessels entering South African ports.

Officers from East Suffolk Council’s port health team have implemented enhanced surveillance measures at the Port of Felixstowe.

A public health emergency contingency plan, maintained by port health and its partners, is in place to respond to any significant issues.

All vessels that have called at any Chinese port are now required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH).

Turning to the global container supply chain as a whole, ports may see longer term disruption yet when the slow movement of cargo catches up to them.