London P&I Advises of Coronavirus Precautions for Chinese Ports

Port of Shanghai (file image)

Published Jan 27, 2020 8:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a new circular, the London P&I Club advises shipowners and operators that vessels calling at Chinese ports may wish to take precautions in regard to the spread of the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan last month. 

The virus was first reported in Wuhan City on December 31, and it has since spread to other cities in China, including coastal port cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin. As of Monday, about 3,000 cases of the disease have been reported worldwide, the overwhelming majority in China, and 81 deaths have been recorded (all in China). 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has advised American citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to China due to the spread of the disease, and it is facilitating screenings for all arriving passengers whose travels originated in Wuhan. Older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk, the agency warned. 

On Monday, the S&P 500 declined by 1.6 percent on fears that the disease may cut into economic growth. Stocks that depend upon Chinese travel and tourism - like airlines and resort operators - were especially affected. 

One of London P&I Club's correspondents in China, Oasis P&I Services, suggests that vessels calling at Chinese ports take certain precautions and measures to prevent the risks of spreading the coronavirus. These precautions include:

- alerting the authorities in the event coronavirus is suspected on board
- taking care to reduce the possibility of the spread of any virus, including handwashing and use of masks
- minimize interpersonal exchanges with people from ashore as much as possible 
- and disembarking the vessel only when absolutely necessary.

"Because the virus can pass from person to person, relevant medical and quarantine authorities in China are highly alerted to control and supervise any suspected cases. In case a crewmember is showing the typical symptoms on board and would like to disembark to see a doctor, it is very likely that additional checks and precautionary measures will be conducted by quarantine officers," Oasis P&I said.