By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
The BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) has developed a Cargo Vessel Pandemic Plan, the draft of which they have already released to local shipping companies.
According to the nine-page draft document dated May 9, the purpose of the plan is to guide agents, shipping operators, and other stakeholders regarding procedures and protocols to be followed during a pandemic.
The BVIPA said these protocols involve “enhanc[ing] the normal screening procedures of the handling of cargo vessel operations” during any such event.
“For better management, safety and security, all cargo entering the territory during the pandemic shall be redirected to the main island port at Port Purcell,” the introductory paragraph of the BVIPA draft document read.
Plan to be activated by notice from HEOC
If approved, the plan can only become active once a ‘pandemic notice’ is issued by the BVI Health Emergency Operating Center (HEOC), the document further outlined.
Once the HEOC has declared such a notice, the plan will replace all normal processes within the BVI port, until the HEOC advises otherwise.
Key requirements outlined within the plan is for cargo vessels and shipping companies to submit a detailed history of the voyage from point of origin, an onboard pandemic plan to handle the virus, information regarding any change of crew members from the origin of the voyage, and cargo transfer agreement information.
The draft document further said that agents and operators of vessels must adhere to all measures imposed by BVI authorities once within the territory.
These measures include border control inspections, the administering of medical assistance and quarantine if needed by the crew, sanitary health inspections, and sanitization of the cargo or vessel to the satisfaction of the local authority.
The sanitization of both cargo and vessels will be conducted with lead assistance from the Environmental Health Department and the BVI Fire and Rescue Service, the document stated.
Ill crew members must be reported
The plan also includes protocols that must be followed, should a crew member fall ill either on their way to the territory or while berthed.
Once a crew member becomes sick, the BVIPA and BVI Health Services Authority should be notified of the incident so they can make the necessary assessments to better prescribe the best precautionary measures to take.
The attached document will be reviewed today by the BVIPA board for approval, this plan would be used by all stakeholders when using Port Facilities moving forward.
BVI News understands that the draft document was reviewed for approval by the BVIPA board some time on Monday. It is not yet clear whether the document has been approved.
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