Coronavirus Singapore

Bunker tanker at centre of new cluster quarantined

Vessel linked to nine cases ceases all operations until further notice

Bunker tanker NewOcean 6 will need to review all its procedures before it is allowed to resume operations.
Bunker tanker NewOcean 6 will need to review all its procedures before it is allowed to resume operations.PHOTO: UNITED SHIP MANAGEMENT (GROUP)

NewOcean 6, a bunker tanker at the centre of Singapore's latest Covid-19 cluster, has been quarantined and will cease all operations until further notice.

The vessel, which is operated by Palmstone Tankers & Trading, will need to review all its procedures before it is allowed to resume operations, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement yesterday.

Bunker tankers are a type of harbour craft that operate in the Port of Singapore and provide essential marine services such as refuelling ships that call at the port.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said nine cases were linked to the cluster.

Among the nine is an Indonesian crew member who was the first patient to be confirmed. He tested positive on Dec 30. He experienced the onset of symptoms on Dec 23.

The 47-year-old work permit holder arrived in Singapore on Dec 17, after going through a 14-day quarantine in Indonesia, as per MPA regulations.

The rules require crew members, who arrive from overseas to work on board harbour craft, to test negative for Covid-19 at the start and end of their 14-day quarantine period in their home country.

Upon arrival in Singapore, they are tested again and will need to self-isolate in a room until their test results are known, before boarding the harbour craft.

The man tested negative thrice - on Dec 1, 16 and 17.

He started work on NewOcean 6 after his test result on Dec 17 came back negative, said MPA.

Following his positive test on Dec 30, 13 remaining crew members were quarantined from Dec 31.

Of them, eight - seven Indonesians and a Singaporean - were subsequently reported to be infected with Covid-19. One was reported on Sunday, another on Monday, and the remaining six on Tuesday.

MPA said the foreign crew members on board the bunker tanker did not disembark prior to being tested positive. It added that the Singapore crew member is a cargo officer who certifies bunker delivery on board the vessel.

On Tuesday, MOH said the Singaporean man was on board NewOcean 6 from Dec 21 to 23, and from Dec 28 to Jan 2, and that he was at his home in Tah Ching Road between Dec 23 and 28. The 55-year-old's earlier tests from rostered routine testing - with the last one on Dec 23 - were negative for Covid-19.

He was taken to a government quarantine facility last Saturday and tested positive the next day.

His serological test result has come back negative, indicating a likely current infection.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2021, with the headline 'Bunker tanker at centre of new cluster quarantined '. Print Edition | Subscribe