The authorities are investigating if two COVID-19 cases in the marine sector have breached safe management measures. The two cases are a marine surveyor who was confirmed positive on 30 December and a marine service engineer who had dinner with 12 family members at Seoul Garden in Tampines.
Preliminary investigations reveal that the marine surveyor, like the marine service engineer who was confirmed positive earlier on 26 November, consumed food provided by or with the crew onboard the ships. This was against a precautionary measure.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), and MOH said in a joint statement that they take a serious view of non-compliance with COVID-19 safe management measures and will not hesitate to take firm actions against the errant companies and individuals.
For the earlier case involving the marine service engineer, MPA has stopped the company, Master Systems Marine Pte Ltd, from sending any of its personnel to work onboard ships. This will continue until the company can demonstrate that its employees will adhere to safe management measures onboard ships.
For the case involving the marine surveyor, Lloyd’s Register Singapore Pte Ltd has suspended all its shipboard survey and audit activities. Lloyd’s Register will be testing all its marine surveyors for COVID-19.
The joint statement also said that further actions may be taken against the companies and individuals after investigations have been completed.
20,000 marine employees to be tested
In light of the two recent cases, MPA will tighten the testing regime for all shore-based personnel going onboard ships.
All shore-based personnel going onboard ships will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test within the next seven days, between 2 and 8 January 2021, to give assurance that they are clear of COVID-19. This will cover more than 20,000 personnel.
They will also be subject to a tighter rostered routine testing (RRT) regime. Instead of 14 days previously, they will be tested every seven days. Those who do not adhere to the RRT regime will not be allowed to board ships to work.
As announced earlier by MOH, there will there will be a special testing operation to test all workers who had boarded the ships that the marine surveyor and harbour pilot, who tested positive for COVID-19 infection, had recently worked on.
To protect shore-based personnel and minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during their work, MPA promulgated the Port Marine Circular 35 of 2020 on 24 August 2020 which lists the precautionary measures that all personnel going onboard ships must take. These include wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), shortening the duration of stay onboard to minimise exposure, no overnight stay onboard, avoiding interactions with crew, having designated work and rest area that is segregated from crew, no loitering in crew living and common area, bringing and consuming own individually packed food and drinks and consuming meals separate from the ship’s crew and not sharing food/drinks with the crew.