The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) has asked the all ships coming to Chattogram port to declare that their on-board crew members are not infected with coronavirus. Only then the port will allow the vessel to berth.
The CPA issued the directives at a meeting with shipping agents, port users and stakeholders on Monday.
The port authority has made it mandatory for the shipping agents working as representatives of the merchant ships, to submit the declaration signed by vessel captain that "ship's master and his crew members are free from coronavirus."
New crew members also have to put their details in the "Fresh Arrival Book."
Commodore M Shafiul Bari, member harbour and marine of CPA said, "We have identified three areas in the port where our people mix with the foreigners. These areas pose potential risk of coronavirus spread if our people are in touch with any infected foreigners. They are the harbour with 25 jetties, the outer anchorage of port and the immigration point."
"We have formed a medical team at the immigration point to scan the crew members. The foreigners will be given masks and gloves. Seven doctors will also be present there," he added.
He also asked to be cautious about the vessels whose last dock was in China.
The commodore said, "There are 130 ships in Chattogram port and in a ship there are 32-40 crew members. It is not possible to scan all the crews, so the ships have to declare earlier before entering port."
There is a medical support team in every ship. They will conduct a primary examination and the declaration will be made to the port.
If a ship is suspected to be with crew infected with coronavirus, it will be given dedicated berthing and the crew members will be taken to the Port Authority Hospital. In the meantime, an isolated ward has been made ready for the coronavirus affected persons at the port hospital.
The CPA said that so far 54 foreigners have been screened, but no one was detected with coronavirus.
The commodore also asked to discourage the Chinese citizens to come ashore during their visit to the Chattogram port.
Bangladesh Shipping Agents' Association president Ahsanul Haque Chowdhury said, "We are asking the captains to send us the declaration as we have to submit it to the port with other related documents."
Shipping Agents' and Port sources said around 15-20 percent crew members of the merchant ships around the world are Chinese.
Dr Md Mamunur Rashid, Associate Professor and Head of clinical Tropical Medicine of Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) said, "There is no reason to panic. We are prepared to tackle the virus if it spreads in Bangladesh."
Karul Amin, member finance of CPA, Captain M Mohidul Hasan, member (engineering), Captain Faridul Alam, deputy conservator, commander M Arifur Rahman, chief hydrographer were present among others in the meeting.