Tema, May 7, GNA - The 768 COVID-19 tests, conducted by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) between May 2020 and May 4, 2021, at the country’s port of disembarking (Off Signing) crew members, recorded 14 positives and 754 negatives.
“COVID-19 tests are conducted at the country’s seaport regularly, those who will test positive are treated at designated isolation and treatment centres and subsequently discharged,” Mrs Esther Gyebi-Donkor, GPHA General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs stated in a statement issued and copied to the Ghana News Agency at Tema.
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor indicated that; “There are clear and mandatory procedures for the reception of vessels and handling of crew embarkation and disembarkation in Ghana, which all shipping lines and the Port Community is apprised of and are adhering to.
“Ship crew either embarking or disembarking from vessels go through specific procedure stated in the COVID-19 protocols. These protocols have been in force since March 2020 and have been updated when required based on presidential directives”.
Stating the regulations and industry procedures for embarkation, the GPHA stated that a request for embarkation approval is needed from the local shipping agent between 48-72 hours before the expected date for the crew change.
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor added that for crew arriving by air, embarkation was facilitated after all COVID-19 protocols at the Ghana Airport were met and that all arriving crew members must also possess COVID-19 negative PCR test results from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin.
She said the GPHA Health Services facilitated crew change subject to “supporting COVID-19 clearance documents from the Ghana Airports if the crew is joining from overseas.
“However, if the overseas crew extends their stay in Ghana and the airport PCR test expires, they are mandated to take and submit the results of new tests before Port entry and embarkation are allowed”.
For the disembarkation, Mrs Gyebi-Donkor explained that the procedures ensured that the Port Authority, Immigration, and Port Health were updated on the categories of vessels approaching the country’s waters one week before arrival.
The vessels, she added were to fill and submit electronic health declaration forms showing the crews health status on COVID-19 and other diseases; with subsequent updates daily until the vessel arrives. This is “to ensure that the health status of all crew members who arrived in the country’s shores were reported, and all crew had the requisite health clearance documentation.
“All Vessels whether from high-risk origins or not, whose crew members have symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness remain at the designated quarantine anchorage (QA) which is three nautical miles away from the port; for Port Health and Medical Services personnel to retrieve samples for the required testing.
“If the test results are positive, a COVID-19 protocol is immediately activated where the patients are isolated in their cabins while still at anchorage”.
She said the GPHA Head of Health Services then notifies the Tema Metro Health Directorate and the Tema West Municipal Health Directorate who determine the requisite treatment or isolation centre based on the condition of the patient.
She said per these arrangements and many more that were instituted by the Port Authority in liaison with the other maritime stakeholders, there was a limited possibility for the spread of COVID-19 in the country through the Seaports.
She also reiterated that a multi-stakeholder COVID-19 committee was instituted at the beginning of 2020 when news of the epidemic started even before it became a pandemic and national protocols were put in place.
The committee comprised stakeholders in the Maritime and Port Community, GPHA, Port Health, Immigration, Navy, National Security, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Meridian Port Services and Customs Division of GRA and Ghana Health Service.