A Westerdam cruise ship seen at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia on February 13, 2020 after being turned away over fears about the novel coronavirus disease.
A Westerdam cruise ship seen at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia on February 13, 2020 after being turned away over fears about the novel coronavirus disease. |Li Lay/Xinhua/IANS

COVID-19: Ministry of Shipping places restrictions on cruise ships

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 12, 2020

Only those international cruise ships which had planned and intimated their call to an Indian port before January 1, 2020 will be allowed to call on major Indian ports, the government said here on Wednesday as part of the measures being taken to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Any international cruise ship or any member of its crew or any passenger having a travel history of visiting any of the COVID-19 affected countries mentioned in the link (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports) since February 1, 2020, will not be permitted to enter any Indian port till March 31, 2020, an official press release said.

International cruise ships will be allowed only at ports having thermal screening facilities for passenger and crew.

The Shipping Agent/Master of Vessel should submit all documents related to crew and passengers regarding their travel to/from the COVID-19 affected countries. No sick passengers/crew will be allowed to board the ship by Shipping agent/Master of Vessel.

The updated information on COVID-19 shall be provided to each international cruise vessel and should be as per guidelines of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW).

All passengers and crewmembers should fill up the Self Reporting Form as prescribed by MoH&FW and submit it to the Port Health Office (PHO).

The PHO will carry out thermal screening of all the passengers and crew members onboard ship. Until clearance by PHO, passengers will not be allowed ashore. Port / Local hospital will assist PHO by supplying additional doctors and medical staff and logistics etc.

If any passengers/crew show symptoms of the disease, disembarking of such passengers/crew will not be permitted. The passenger will be quarantined on the ship.

Samples of the patient will be collected and sent to the designated hospital/lab for testing. If the sample is tested positive, the passenger will be taken to the isolation facility attached to the Port and the ship will be asked to move out. If the sample is negative, the passengers and crew will be allowed shore excursion. A declaration to follow this procedure will be taken from all ships before they are allowed to enter the port.

Cruise ships need to take special measures to prevent coronavirus affected patients to board the ships in the first place. Some of these steps will include:

Any cruise guests who have travelled through China, Hong Kong, Iran, South Korea and Italy and other affected countries (as defined by WHO in their daily reports https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports) in the past 14 days are automatically denied boarding by the cruise lines.

Any person having contact with anyone within the last 14-days prior to travel who has travel history to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, or Italy or any other affected countries is automatically denied boarding.

Mandatory screenings are performed of persons with influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) in boarding ports terminals.

All guests onboard have to fill out self-declaration health forms. At the check-in counter of the boarding ports, the guests' passports are verified for any stamps from COVID-19 affected countries.

The passports are double-checked by cruise vessel personnel inside the terminal at boarding ports to ensure nothing is amiss. All passports are also checked onboard by cruise vessel staff alongside Indian Immigration Officers, wherever the Immigration Officers boarded in the previous foreign ports for en-route clearance.

The ship should be regularly sanitized. All cruises should carry out a daily examination of all passengers for symptoms for COVID-19. All cruises should have sufficiently oriented health staff with adequate logistics like masks, personal protection equipment etc. along with sufficient isolation beds where any crew/passenger suspects can be isolated in case of detection of any symptoms.