Following the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the shipping industry, Australia issued guidance for pilotage providers, asking them to take precautionary approach and comply with the Department of Health information and directives.
Specifically, AMSA suggests that when a pilotage provider accepts a booking for coastal pilotage services from a vessel, they use the screening questions below. The questions below should be asked as soon as possible, and again within 24 hours of the commencement of the pilotage.
- Please advise if it has been less than 14 days since anyone on board left a foreign port?
- Has any person on the vessel become ill or shown signs of illness in the past 14 days?
Option 1: No
If the answer to both questions in ‘no’ then the pilotage may proceed with the pilot with the normal procedures.
Option 2: The answer to question 1 is ‘yes’
Person to person spread of the coronavirus is reported as occurring, but it is not yet understood how easily this happens.
The following measures will help reduce the risk:
- The pilotage provider should advise vessels that their pilots will take a precautionary approach and request that the master assist in minimising contact with crew.Have crew who will be in proximity of the pilot use PPE.
- Ask that all crew practice social distancing by staying 1.5 metres or more away from the pilot.
- Any pilot who has a compromised immune system or has diagnosed heart or lung conditions should not be allocated to the pilotage.
- Pre-boarding advice should be provided to the vessel master/company including details below. They should also be directed to relevant documents on the Department of Health website.
- Where possible, contact with persons on board the vessel should be limited to essential crew.
- There should be no physical contact, for example shaking hands.
- Where possible, pilots should stay 1.5 metres or more away from crew.
- Pilots should wear appropriate PPE, (surgical masks) while on board as a precautionary measure. Masks should be replaced if they become damp or soiled. Additional protection may be offered by wearing eye protection, which would include sunglasses.
- Even if wearing PPE, Pilots should avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed or gloved hands.
- Hand hygiene is important and pilots should carry alcohol-based hand rub. Pilots should wash their hands frequently while on board the vessel with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rub. Pilots should especially practice good hand hygiene while using toilet facilities.
- Where required to sleep on the vessel, pilots should be accommodated in a single cabin and ensure bedding is clean or request fresh bedding.
- When eating meals on-board, standard advice should be observed including ensuring that food is well cooked. Pilots should not consume raw meat or animal products.
- Pilots should take their meals in their cabin, so that their mask can be safely removed, and proper hand hygiene should be observed.
- If a pilot becomes aware of any ill person on board, they should ask the vessel master to report the illness in their pre-arrival report as they are required to under law.
- If there are concerns about pre-arrival reporting contact Queensland ReefVTS or their local port authority and public health authority.
- Advise the Master that the ill crew member should isolate on the vessel in a single cabin until further direction is given by a biosecurity officer or human biosecurity officer.
AMSA notes that additional information can be found herebelow
Option 3: Where the answer to both questions is yes
If confirmed that a person onboard the vessel is ill or has shown signs of illness within the past 14 days, pilotage providers should ask the vessel’s master to report the illness in their pre-arrival report as he/she is required to under law.
If there are any concerns about pre-arrival reporting contact Queensland ReefVTS or alternatively their local public health authority.
The Master should be advised that the ill crew member should isolate on the vessel in a single cabin. A plan of action should be discussed with a biosecurity officer or human biosecurity officer.