ONE: Vessels Maintaining Normal Port Calls in Greater China (31 JAN 2020)

Container operations in Greater China including those at the terminals, depots, and other facilities, continue to operate as usual over the Lunar New Year holiday period, Ocean Network Express said in an advisory.

The comment comes amid the ongoing outbreak of Novel Coronavirus stemming from Wuhan, China, which has put on high alert port and maritime authorities across the board.

 “For ports other than Wuhan, vessels are still maintaining their normal port calls and operations. All ONE China offices will have staff available either on-site or via remote access in order to ensure operations continue to run smoothly throughout this exceptional period and to take bookings for future shipments,” ONE said.

On the other hand, cargo operations at Wuhan port have been suspended until further notice due to local quarantine restrictions.

“New bookings to/from Wuhan are suspended, and our staff will continue to liaise with customers who have Wuhan shipments already in progress to discuss the most appropriate course of action for these,” the company added.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) advised its members to take steps that limit the spread of the novel virus, reflecting advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO believes that if certain measures are taken, there should be no “unnecessary restrictions of international traffic”, meaning ports and global shipping can continue to operate.

The measures in question include checking crew for symptoms of the infection and keeping confirmed cases under isolation and treatment, as well as carrying out health information campaigns and collaborating with public health authorities for case management on board ships.

“The shipping industry will always prioritise the health of our crew and members of the public above all else. We have recommended that all our members across the world follow the WHO measures. As an industry, we fully understand the importance of playing our role in halting the spread of viruses,” Guy Platten, the Secretary-General of ICS, commented.

“By implementing the measures in their entirety, we are avoiding the needless closure of any port. Shipping can continue to be the conduit for 90% of world trade, ensuring the steady supply of medicine, food and fuel for consumers worldwide. We are thankful that the WHO has avoided a knee jerk reaction, which would do nobody any favours.”

Port authorities across the world are issuing guidance for seafarers predominantly mandating that masters report of their previous calls to China over the past 30 days as well as potential cases of flu-like symptoms on board in order to curb the potential spread of the virus.