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The coronavirus and calling US ports

In late January, and then in early February, the US Coast Guard (USCG) issued Maritime Safety Information Bulletins (MSIBs) relating to the coronavirus and calling at ports in the country.

The onboard illness that may affect the safety of a vessel or a port  facility - such as passengers or crew exhibiting possible Coronavirus infection - is deemed to be a “hazardous condition”. The relevant legal statute is 33 CFR 160.216; under another statute ( 33 CFR 160.206), the onboard presence of someone with Coronavirus symptoms must be reported to the USCG’s Captain of the Port (COTP).

For commercial vessels, that have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) or embarked crewmembers who have been in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), but without  crew showing illnesses,  will be allowed to enter the US and conduct normal operations, though there could be restrictions.

Crew members aboard these vessels will be required according to COTP authority, to remain aboard the vessel, however they may disembark to conduct specific activities related to cargo or provisioning operations, as necessary.

The US has had some scares, but no catastrophic incidents from the pandemic. In the New York area, an RCL cruiseship Anthem of the Seas, was detained at a dock while Chinese passengers exhibiting virus-like symptoms were screened.

Fortunately, tests came up negative; the passengers had come down with the more common influenza and, after a four day delay at a cruise terminal near the Statue of Liberty,  the vessel was then set to embark, albeit with a cruise to Bermuda rather than to the Bahamas as originally intended.

Read all Seatrade Maritime News coverage on the impact of the coronavirus on shipping

Seatrade Maritime News will be watching the situation closely in the States.

The relevant MSIB can be found at: https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/DCO%20Documents/5p/MSIB/2020/MSIB-02-20_Novel_Coronavirus_2Feb2020.pdf

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