Coronavirus: Centre directs returning seafarers to self-quarantine for 14 days

P. Manoj Mumbai | Updated on March 17, 2020 Published on March 17, 2020

DG Shipping also gives out guidelines for manning agencies, maritime training institutes

The Director General of Shipping (DG Shipping) has asked seafarers who have travelled to coronavirus-infected regions overseas to “self-quarantine immediately on arrival in India for at least a period of 14 days”.

Close to 1,90,000 Indian nationals are employed on foreign flagged ships, both as officers and general-purpose ratings/staff. Besides, there are thousands of Indian working on cruise ships.

A DG Shipping order issued on Monday said seafarers should also “avoid availing shore leave in infected regions and consider the risks involved before desiring to go ashore in other regions”.

“Availing shore leave during the pandemic may need to be avoided and used only in exigencies with necessary precautions,” DG Shipping Amitabh Kumar wrote in the order.

Indian ships have been advised to develop a disease outbreak management plan for dealing with the outbreak, taking into consideration the interim guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“While developing the plan, vessels may consider using the hospitals onboard the ships for isolating suspected cases until they are disembarked and transferred to a healthcare facility. Also, adequate protocols need to be developed for managing suspect cases on the vessel including clinical management, cleaning and disinfections of possible contaminated areas,” wrote Kumar.

For recruitment agents

Recruitment and manning agents have been told to ensure that the requirement of physical presence of seafarers in their offices for the purpose of seafarers’ ‘sign-on’ and ‘sign off’ from ships are “kept to the minimum”. These agents have been asked to consider using online means such as video conferencing for briefing and de-briefing purpose to the extent possible.

All the basic and modular courses, including simulator and competency/preparatory courses conducted by maritime training institutions, have been suspended from Monday till further orders. “No maritime training institute (MTI) shall conduct these courses till formally notified by this Directorate. The remaining portion of any training shall be resumed after normalcy and subsequent DGS orders,” Kumar said.

Maritime courses

Candidates may access e-learning platforms on the DGS website to go through the modular courses. The period of suspension shall be treated as ‘holidays’ for the purpose of calculation of attendance of the candidates. All training institutes conducting residential pre-sea courses may continue conducting only those courses.

All written competency examinations stand deferred from March 24. Resumption of the competency examinations will be intimated by subsequent orders. All candidates are required to monitor the DGS website for instructions regarding resumption of the competency examinations.

Oral examinations will be conducted per schedule. “However, the oral examination is subject to the candidate having no travel history of foreign travel for a period of 14 days prior to the orals and not displaying any fever and/or dry cough and/or difficulty in breathing. Also, orders of the local government with respect to congregation of persons need to be followed,” Kumar said in the order.

In a separate circular issued on March 13, the DGS had asked all maritime training institutes to stop biometric attendance for principal, faculty and candidates with immediate effect till further orders. They were also asked to maintain ‘proper’ attendance registers in lieu of biometric attendance.

Published on March 17, 2020
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