Since early February, Port Authority NSW has required mandatory health reporting by all ships arriving at NSW ports. This is a sensible approach to help protect their crucial and limited maritime workforce.
But there is no protocol on what to do if a ship reports a sick crew member.
In the eight weeks since this requirement was introduced one would expect that this scenario would have been carefully worked through and appropriate protocols put in place to ensure that a ship who reported an ill crew member could be appropriately managed. Clearly this is not the case.
Recently, the master of a container ship destined for Port Botany honestly reported one crew member with an elevated temperature and in response the ship was banned from entering port until a clear COVID-19 test is obtained. But the ship can’t come in and no NSW Health personnel will go to the ship to carry out the test. So how do they do that test?
Has this cut off the vital maritime logistics chain for NSW? It seems that if a crew member sneezes all those vital supplies are destined to be left floating around the ocean.
Within a day of the initial report the crew member’s temperature returned to normal and he is reported to be completely well. The ship master has regularly reported temperature and health information and has confirmed that no other members of the crew are exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms or have elevated temperatures.
However, the initial decision that the ship is banned from entering port remains and to date there is no cure for this bureaucratic virus of inaction.