News 19 Aug, 2014

Ebola Virus – Update

The Ebola outbreak is reportedly building momentum and the World Health Organization recently warned that the virus is spreading faster than the efforts of governments and health workers to keep it under control. There are now nearly 2,000 people infected and more than 1,000 reported deaths from the virus. This has been further complicated by events in the last few days in Monrovia, Liberia where an armed gang raided an isolation clinic claiming there was no Ebola outbreak in the country. As a result about 17 patients left the clinic with their whereabouts unknown heightening the risk of the further spread of the virus.

Below is a summary of recent developments in the Ebola crisis affecting the maritime industry:-

Port Restrictions

Argentina - 15 August 2014

The Club’s local correspondents Pandi Liquidadores have advised as follows:

“Please be informed as per circular issued by the Centro de Navegacion (Chamber grouping local agents in Argentina) that the local Pilots Association through the River Plate Area Committee has decided that bearing in mind that there are not clear instructions from the Sanitary Authorities as to the measures and actions to be met with by the pilots in relation to the vessels coming from infected areas with Ebola, the pilots companies rendering pilotage services in the River Plate who are part of the Committee, decided that their pilots will not board any vessel coming from the infected areas (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) until 30 (thirty) days since the vessel sailed from last port of the infected areas has elapsed before they will board the vessel for pilotage.

On the other hand the Centro de Navegacion has addressed a letter to the Sanitary Authorities requesting to issue a procedure in respect of the vessels arriving from the infected areas. (The letter from the Pilot Association in Spanish language can be found here, free translation to follow).

In view of the aforementioned, we would suggest that if any vessel is coming from any of those countries then her Master/Owners should get advice from their local agents in advance and before arriving/entering the River Plate area.

However, this office will continue watching the situation and will issue further circulars on the subject when and if further news to report”

Contact details for Pandi Liquidadores can be found here.

Brazil – Anvisa guidelines

All vessels calling at Brazil ports must present a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) to be submitted 12 hours prior to the vessel’s arrival in port.

Ivory Coast - Abidjan – 14 August 2014

The authorities in Abidjan had recently issued a circular announcing that vessels coming from countries affected by Ebola will be refused entry until further notice. This measure has now been rescinded as per Circular No. 272 of 14 August 2014, which  provides as follows:

“CIRCULAR TO SHIPOWNERS, CONSIGNEES AND INSURERS OF SHIPS

Object: Lift of the suspension of entry for ships coming from Ebola affected countries

It is brought to the attention of shipowners, consignees and insurers that the measure relating to the port entry of ships coming from Ebola affected countries has been lifted.

Consequently, any vessel complying with the usual contractual conditions can enter the Port of Abidjan if she so wishes.

Moreover, sanitary measures ruling the entry of vessels coming from contaminated countries  will be communicated at a later date.

This circular which takes effect from the date of its signature, annuls and replaces circular 256 issued on 12th August 2014.”

Nigeria – Lagos Pilotage Notice 14 August 2014

On 7 August Nigeria put all airports, ports and borders on high alert when a Liberian national infected with Ebola arrived on a flight. However on 14 August the Lagos Port Authority issued a Notice advising that Lagos Pilotage District and the Ports are “’Health Free’ to receive vessels at any time.”  According to the World Health Organization there have only been 11 confirmed Ebola cases in Nigeria with 4 deaths as at 13 August. Despite the above Notice it is anticipated that the authorities will be carrying out checks of vessels arriving from affected areas which may cause delays.

Crew & Stowaways

South Africa - August 2014

There will be greater restrictions landing stowaways in South African ports, particularly where there is no documentation as health authorities will need to investigate fully to determine if any individuals are from any of the Ebola effected areas.

Philippines - POEA Circular 11 August 2014

The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) have set safety guidelines for those employing Filipino crew on vessels which may be visiting Ebola infected areas which includes provision of protected clothing/equipment and other measures to minimise risks of contracting the virus. The POEA memorandum dated 11 August 2014 can be found here.

United States – US Coast Guard (USCG) bulletin 7 August 2014

Expanded inspections will be carried out on ships arriving from the Ebola affected areas to check if anyone on board is infected.

Legal Issues

Ince & Co has produced a useful overview of potential legal issues that the shipping industry may face if the Ebola outbreak in West Africa escalates, which can be found here with the kind permission of Ince & Co.