Maritime officials in Queensland, Australia have ordered all foreign trading ships to essentially self-quarantine before entering their ports due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Maritime Safety Queensland directive, ships will not be able enter Queensland ports until at least 14 days since the ship’s departure from mainland China or South Korea, or if the ship or any persons on board has travelled or transited through a country outside of Australia beginning March 16 or later.
Ships are also required to report immediately if crew member or passenger is showing any coronavirus symptoms that include fever, flu-like symptoms cough, sore throat, headache or difficulty breathing.
The ban is effective immediately.
“This means, for example, that a ship which left a port outside Australian Territorial Waters after 2359 on 15 March 2020 may not enter a Queensland pilotage area until 14 days after the ship left the port,” the MSQ directive says.
The precautionary measures were slammed by the Australian shipping group Shipping Australia, which said the ban will put desperately needed goods at risk.
“The MSQ policy is reckless and indefensible, cargo ship crews are probably the lowest risk sector in the world with not one cargo ship crew member yet being confirmed as having COVID-19,” said Shipping Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Rod Nairn.
Nationally, the Prime Minister of Australian has prohibited crew members of commercial vessels that have visited mainland China in the last 14 days from disembarking while berthed in Australia.
Queensland’s major ports include Brisbane, Gladstone, Abbot Point, Hay Point, and Mackay, among others.