Covid-19 testing tightened for shore-based staff in Singapore's maritime sector

All the more than 20,000 shore-based personnel here will need to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test within the next seven days. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Shore-based staff in the maritime sector will now have to be tested for the coronavirus every seven days instead of 14 before they are allowed to board ships for work.

This is among the measures tightened for the testing of all shore-based staff going on board ships, in the light of two cases in which a marine surveyor and a harbour pilot tested positive for Covid-19, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Saturday (Jan 2).

The more than 20,000 shore-based staff here will need to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test within the next seven days, from Saturday to Jan 8, to give assurance that they are clear of the coronavirus.

MPA also said that all shore-based staff are required to give the authority advance notice before they board ships to carry out works or provide services. It said that firm action will be taken against a ship's owner, master or agent if found to be non-compliant with measures.

The authority, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and other agencies will be stepping up checks to ensure Covid-19 safe management measures are adhered to, said the MPA.

"Individuals and companies which are found to have violated these measures will be taken to task. Agencies will also review the need to enhance personal protective equipment and infection control measures in the sector," it said.

The stricter rules for the marine sector come after the Government tightened safety measures for airline crew following news that a Singapore Airlines cabin crew member and a pilot had tested positive for Covid-19.

The authorities are also investigating if there was any breach of Covid-19 safe management measures among the two positive cases in the marine sector.

"Preliminary investigations reveal that the marine surveyor, like the marine service engineer who tested positive for Covid-19 infection earlier on Nov 26, 2020, consumed food provided by or with the crew on board the ships, which was against a precautionary measure," said the MPA.

"MPA, EDB, and the Ministry of Health take a serious view of non-compliance with Covid-19 safe management measures and will not hesitate to take firm actions against the errant companies and individuals," added the authority.

The authority has also stopped Master Systems Marine from sending any of its staff to work on board ships after the case involving the marine service engineer was detected. The halt will continue till the company is able to demonstrate that its employees will adhere to safe management measures on board ships.

With regard to one of the latest cases involving the marine surveyor, Lloyd's Register Singapore has suspended all shipboard survey and audit activities and will be testing all its marine surveyors for Covid-19, said the MPA.

It added that further actions may be taken against the companies and individuals after investigations are completed.

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