In view of the Omicron variant, India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has given guidelines for Ports to be under strict vigilance.
ore specifically, the ships will be under strict pre-arrival scrutiny for planning the inspection of the ships with 3 scenarios coming to Indian ports will be considered as high risk category ships.
These ships will be cleared for port operations with strict compliance of all the Officials, Stevedores following the PHO instructions of PPE, Minimal/essential numbers only on port operations, by ensuring the non-contact port operations SOPs for all type of ship cargo operations.
If the existing SOPs are followed strictly the chance of spread of COVID-19 omicron variant of concern, can be prevented and Port operations can go unhindered and smoothly.
The Port and Port users are adviced to check again departments concerned in port operations, Pilots, Tugs, Mooring Crew, Crane Operators, Dock Labour staff, Agents in boarding, stevedores team head, surveyors, other Port departments, Port Users, CHAs are asked to follow on PPE stocks, proper use/disposal by them, the COVID-19 Vaccination status and encouraged to complete the schedule if incomplete.
As for crew changes, they will have to follow the same SOP very strictly as they will be followed for new strain among crew who may become positive on Sign off.
Sign On crew are to follow the new entry guidelines of India and at risk countries crew after joining will not be able to recheck RT PCR on 8th day so they have to follow the Crew Isolation for 7 days & Crew Changes SOP very strictly for 14 days with proper PPE.
If the ships have Antigen testing facilities they may check on 8th day and follow the crew changes SOP, PPE use, COVID-19 SOP for early detection of symptoms and isolation, treatment plans of their Company, reach nearest Port for assistance.
In addition, immigration rules have to be followed and ensure back up plans on the possibilities of the sign on crew catching infection and possible longer stay in India also if they become positive.
Operators should try to follow the travel plan to sign on the day of sailing as much as possible and have greater transit visa time.
Crew must also follow the travel SOP on single vehicle/ big vehicle with separate entry for driver/crew, non-interaction with driver/others till they reach hotel quarantine and until joining the vessel.
Ships must be stocked with PPE as per SOP-8 well before their arrival, while all the non essential ship inspections, repairs work are to be avoided for time being.