New Covid-19 test requirement for seafarers disembarking in Singapore for crew change

Currently, seafarers who wish to disembark in Singapore must not have gone ashore in the last 21 days before getting off the ship. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Seafarers getting off ships in Singapore will now need to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at the port where the ship last stopped and test negative before arriving here.

This new requirement applies to applications submitted from Monday (Feb 15) for sign-off seafarers who are required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test before departing Singapore, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a circular issued on the same day.

Currently, seafarers who wish to disembark in Singapore must not have gone ashore in the last 21 days before getting off the ship.

They must also not have had any contact with known or suspected cases of Covid-19 during that period. In addition, a doctor in Singapore has to certify seafarers as "fit to travel" no more than 24 hours before they disembark.

Those who take a Covid-19 serology test - that checks if a person had been infected in the past - must remain on board until a negative result is produced.

Separately, MPA on Monday said it has facilitated crew changes for more than 100,000 seafarers in Singapore since March 27 last year.

These seafarers come from all over the world, involving more than 5,000 companies and 6,700 ships.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat called the achievement a "milestone" in a Facebook post on Monday night.

He noted that border and travel restrictions have led to hundreds of thousands of seafarers globally being stranded at sea since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many seafarers had to work on board ships beyond their contractual obligations and could not return onshore to their families, leading to crew fatigue and mental health issues, he added.

"As a major maritime hub, Singapore has been doing our part to facilitate crew change to safeguard the well-being of seafarers," he said.

"Over the past year, we have been working closely with industry associations, unions, maritime companies and international organisations to implement safe crew change protocols."

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

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