APART from adhering to strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when handling vessels visiting Namibian ports, officials from the ports authority and agents have been warned that people possibly infected with the lethal Ebola Virus will be posing an entirely new threat.
The warning follows a recent announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that a sharp increase in new cases of the deadly hemorrhagic fever in West African countries has been detected.
The Port Captain of the Port of Walvis Bay, Lukas Kafuna in a memorandum addressed to port control and harbour pilot officials, the operators of all floating craft, ships’ agents, port facility security officials, terminal operators, and the local law enforcement agencies stated that as a result of the virulent resurgence of the Ebola Virus in West Africa, Namport deemed it prudent to implement additional measures to safeguard Namibia’s harbours.
Captain Kafuna said that additional preventative measures have been implemented immediately and that these steps are aimed at preventing exposure to the threat of the deadly virus presented by vessels visiting and docking in Namibian ports.
Most of the measures already in place to prevent transmission from a vessel’s crew to port officials or agents are consistent with COVID-19 prevention measures. These include the wearing of face masks, gloves, and other appropriate personal protective gear.
Symptoms of a person that is infected with the Ebola Virus include a high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, and in some cases bleeding from one or all bodily orifices.
Captain Kafuna warned that during the period that the new Ebola prevention measures are in place people that have contact with a visiting vessel should refrain from consuming food or liquids on vessels that originate from high-risk areas in West Africa.
All galley waste from vessels that called in at affected areas before docking in Namibian Ports should be incinerated. He made it clear that such waste will not be allowed on the shore.
Officials and agents are requested to confirm that a free pratique – an assurance by the master that a vessel does not have any infectious disease or plague onboard – has been received by Port Control before approaching visiting vessels. The last three ports of call should also be confirmed before a vessel arrives in the harbour.
Captain Kafuna implored masters of visiting vessels to confirm in writing that a stowaway sweep was done after the vessel left its last port of call.
He added that stowaway searches may be requested by the ports authority while a vessel is alongside.
The Port captain said that searches will be performed at the cost of the vessels by specialised companies whose employees or officials have undergone training in the detection of the Ebola Virus.
Captain Kafuna stated that if stowaways are found on such vessels, that they will have to remain at anchor until such time that the stowaways have been cleared by Port Health before docking can be allowed.
He said that in order to prevent unnecessary movement by people that strict gangway watches have been implemented.
According to Captain Kafuna, contaminated vessels will be allocated an isolated berth away from other vessels if and when possible.
He said Namibian officials and agents when boarding visiting vessels should avoid consuming food or liquids, refrain from using the bathroom or other facilities, and avoid at all cost, the bodily fluids of visiting crew members.