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ON STRENGTHENING ANTI-EPIDEMIC PROTECTION AT ODESA PORT UNDER CONDITIONS OF THE 2019-nCoV CORONAVIRUS THREAT

As of 06.02.2020, epidemiologists of the sanitary-quarantine department of Odesa port provided a medical (sanitary) examination of crew members of 25 sea vessels shipping worldwide

 

Last night, COSCO SHIPPING SEINE (L = 299.9 m, flag - Hong Kong), the container ship moored at berth No. 42 in Khlebnaya harbor. The vessel arrived in Odesa after entering the ports of China during the incubation period of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Right after mooring, a medical (sanitary) examination of all crew members of the container ship and other preventive measures were carried out, in accordance with Order of the Ministry of Health dated January 24, 2020, No. 185, which provides for an enhanced operation mode of special sanitary-quarantine departments at international sea checkpoints (entries) across the state border of Ukraine.

 

Since this document`s requirements have come into force, a medical examination of crews in Odesa port has already been carried out on 25 vessels. Among these, 5 came from China, including 4, which left the ports of the Celestial Empire before the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan.

 

The epidemiological well-being of seafarers on vessels at the berths of domestic ports is controlled by specialists of the sanitary-quarantine departments (SQD) of the State Institution ‘Laboratory Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine on Water Transport’. Since the end of January this year, workers of SQD have been boarding almost all vessels calling at Odesa port, regardless a region of the World Ocean they arrived from.

 

We are forced to switch to almost 100 percent crew control, taking into account the specifics of the seafarers` work,’ Nina Starova, an epidemiologist with 35 years of experience, says. Importation has been recorded in 26 countries. Even if the seafarers have not visited China recently, we don’t know which flight he flew to the next crew change, who he contacted on the plane ...

 

According to N. Starova, the procedure for the epidemiologist to prevent the importation of coronavirus 2019-nCoV through the international sea checkpoint into Ukraine includes two stages. At the first stage, medical documents are examined using the risk-based method before a vessel arrives at the port. Documents are provided by the captain through a maritime agent in the Port Information Community System. At the second stage, onboard the vessel, the captain presents the Maritime Health Declaration and the originals of the medical documents. Using a non-contact infrared thermometer, the specialists of the sanitary-quarantine department conduct temperature screening and get acquainted with the survey results of each crew member (the proforma of the questionnaire is sent to the captain in advance).

 

Only making sure that there is no epidemic threat on board the vessel, an SQD specialist gives the right to ‘free practice’ at the port of arrival and allows representatives of regulatory authorities (border guards, customs officers) to board the vessel and continue the border opening procedure.

 

‘If a patient is identified, an operational plan of anti-epidemic measures will immediately be put into operation on the vessel, Oksana Borisenko, head of the sanitary-quarantine department of Odesa sea port, says. - In this case, the patient with suspected coronavirus will be isolated in the vessel's isolation ward, or the port's isolation ward, followed by hospitalization at the onshore hospital base, and the vessel itself will be quarantined with appropriate medical measures.

 

In the context of implementing measures to prevent importation and spread to Ukraine of coronavirus through a sea checkpoint, O. Borisenko noted the operational actions of Odesa port Authority (R. Sakhautdinov, General Manager) in preparing a quarantine berth and premises for temporary isolation of persons with suspected diagnosis 2019-nCoV.

 

Besides, the head of SQD spoke about the availability of the necessary equipment, personal protective equipment and practical skills if infected people are identified. The department holds regular training of anti-epidemic teams every year in April. In October 2014, due to the threat of the Ebola virus spread, large international exercises were held at the port of Odesa.

 

Odesa Sea Port Authority