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India imposes 14-day quarantine on vessels from COVID-19 affected countries

Immediately after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day total lockdown of the nation on 24 March the country’s Directorate-General of Shipping (DGS) moved to impose a 14-day quarantine on shipping vessels arriving from any port in China or from any nation COVID-19.

Vessels arriving after 14 days of departure from a COVID-19 infected country are, however, not required to comply with the additional precautionary measures. The stoppage of a vessel at any port of the affected countries only for refueling purposes would not be considered for the calculation of 14 days, the DGS clarified.

“Shipping services are needed to be operational so that essential goods and commodities like fuel, medical supplies and foodgrains are delivered, and to ensure that the economic activity of the nation is not disrupted,” the DGS said in its order.

“Ports that are not able to comply with the specified requirements will not be allowed to berth vessels that have arrived within 14 days from the infected countries.”

According to the order, the master of a vessel, before arrival at its first port of call in India, would be required to ascertain the state of health of each person on board and submit a declaration to the health authorities of the port.   

“If the maritime declaration of health given by the master is found to be incorrect and not reflecting the factual conditions of health of persons on board the vessel, the master is liable to be prosecuted in accordance with applicable laws,” the order said.

“In addition, the Maritime Declaration of Health is required to be forwarded at least 72 hours prior to arrival of the vessel at the port. If the voyage duration from the last port of departure is less than 72 hours, the declaration will be informed to the Indian port immediately on departure from the port of departure.”

 Vessels having on board persons suspected of COVID-19 will necessarily be required to be monitored by the health authorities and put in quarantine, if any samples test positive. The vessel will remain in quarantine, and the infected persons will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Health Ministry.

“Vessels with infected persons will also be sanitised in accordance with the set protocols for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the DGS order concluded.

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