The following provides important information on the Coronavirus and measures that the Tasmanian Ports Corporation (TasPorts) has put in place. This information is designed for port tenants, facility operators, shipping agents and any other organisation that interfaces with vessels in Tasmanian waters.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses are a type of virus that can affect humans and animals. Some coronaviruses cause illness similar to the common cold while other coronaviruses cause more serious illness, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is primarily affecting people who have recently been in the city of Wuhan, China, or had contact with sick people from Wuhan.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND WHAT IS THE RISK OF CORONAVIRUS TO YOU?
Symptoms of Coronavirus include fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing. Difficulty breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia that requires prompt medical attention.
The Australian Department of Health has advised that the risk to workers at the Australian border is considered relatively low. While the government remain vigilant, they have advised it is more likely that passengers and crew displaying infectious symptoms have a common respiratory infection such as influenza, rather than Coronavirus.
WHAT MEASURES AND SIGNAGE WILL YOU SEE AROUND TASMANIAN PORTS IMPLEMENTED BY BORDER PROTECTION AGENCIES?
Border Protection Agencies focus is those vessels arriving with passengers or crew who have either originated or have transited through China in the previous 14 days.
Signs will be placed at pedestrian access points within the port including passenger entry points for cruise ship passengers (refer right).
Biosecurity and Customs will be applying some personal precautionary safety measures when processing passengers or crew onboard vessels that have been identified and declared as ill.
The PPE attire they could be wearing may consist of mask, glasses and gloves. Do not be alarmed if you see border protection agencies wearing this PPE attire, is a precautionary measure.
WHAT ADDITIONAL MEASURES IS TASPORTS PUTTING IN PLACE?
TasPorts takes the wellbeing of its staff and port workers seriously and wants to ensure that, where possible, risk of virus infection is reduced.
In addition to the Australian Government Border Protection Arrangements for Travellers, and in consultation with Government, TasPorts has implemented the following measures:
- Prior to coming into port, ships are required to provide information on crew and passenger health (including health monitoring), along with standard biosecurity declaration information.
- From 2359 hours AEST on 15 March 2020, all international vessels must not enter any Tasmanian Port Limits until 14 days have elapsed from the time the vessel, crew member or person on board the ship have departed the country outside of Australia, whichever is later. This requirement applies to:
- Any vessel that has left, or transited through a port outside of Australian Territorial Waters after 2359 hours AEST on 15 March 2020; or
- Any vessel arriving to Tasmania that has had a crew member or other person on board that has travelled to or transited through a country outside Australia after 2359 hours AEST on 15 March 2020.
- All crew from international vessels arriving in Tasmania are required to remain on-board when in port regardless of the time since last departing a country outside of Australia. Should a crew member be required to disembark for critical vessel duties alongside, then they may do so but are required to practice good hand hygiene, wear protective gear and minimise their contact with port staff. At minimum, protective gear should include a face mask, glasses and gloves.
- TasPorts requires all crew arriving from international destinations to have completed a 14 day self-isolation period in line with the Australian Government self-isolation requirements.
TasPorts has supplied stocks of masks, glasses, gloves, personal hand sanitiser and sanitising wet wipes to operational staff. Whilst the risk of contraction of the virus is low and border protection agencies have a number of robust processing arrangements for these vessels when in port, those companies who have staff that may be required to go onboard these vessels and/or work closely with crew from these vessels may wish to consider providing the same precautionary measures to their employees.
WHAT MEASURES CAN EVERYONE THAT INTERACTS WITH VESSELS PUT IN PLACE TO REDUCE THE RISK OF INFECTION?
While the infection does not currently appear to spread easily between people, the following preventative measures will also help reduce any risk of contracting a flu or the virus:
- Practice and promote frequent handwashing.
- Where possible, stay 1 metre or more away from crew or passengers who are ill.
- Practice and promote good respiratory (cough) etiquette.
- Undertake appropriate cleaning and disinfection activities.
- Use of PPE where you have concern of close contact.
The Australian Department of Health is closely monitoring this situation in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the states and territories, and we will be kept informed of any changes.
TasPorts will continue to work with Government Agencies to ensure we have the most up-to-date information and appropriate measures in place.
For anyone seeking information on the Coronavirus to determine what arrangements they should put in place, materials and resources are available on the Commonwealth website: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov