Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) have been changed at the Indian shipbreaking port of Alang ever since one COVID positive case was found among the crew members of the yard.
“Vessel isolation” has been introduced in the port, where seafarers having COVID-19 symptoms would be allowed to quarantine themselves aboard the ship, instead of disembarkation. A doctor would also pay a visit to those seafarers.
Since the onset of the pandemic, about 500 seafarers have disembarked on the port. Out of these, 9 seafarers have tested positive for the virus, including Filipino, Indian, as well as Polish crew.
The district collector of Bhavnagar, where Alang is located, said, “When the first positive case came at Alang on June 29, we realised that the crew could pose risk and so we have now changed the SoP.”
It has been made mandatory by the Indian government that irrespective of the virus being symptomatic or asymptomatic, samples have to be given by seafarers onboard their vessels. Right now, there are 2 seafarers undergoing self-isolation.
The Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA) secretary, Haresh Parmar said, “The crew is tested first and after the results come, some of us board the vessel.”