US to Start Screening Cargo Ships amid Ebola Fears
The United States Coast Guard will start screening cargo ship personnel coming from Ebola-infected countries who arrive at U.S. ports, in accordance with the Obama Administration decision.
The decision comes in the aftermath of the first Ebola death case in Dallas, on Wednesday morning, which resulted in boosting Ebola checks for airline passengers.
“The administration continues to take thoughtful and straightforward steps in protecting Americans from Ebola, through stronger screening at our ports of entry,” New York Senator Charles Schumer, who pushed hard for health screening at both airports and ports, said in a statement.
“I am pleased that the U.S. Coast Guard will ensure no cargo ship passengers are displaying symptoms of Ebola before allowing those ships to enter ports in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and I look forward to the details of additional airport screening expected in the coming days.”
Schumer had called on that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct “intense health screening” for personnel working on cargo ships at us ports of entry, “particularly considering that Liberia has the second largest cargo ship fleet in the world. Experts have said almost universally that a travel ban will not work, and CDC is vehemently opposed, but checking temperature and screening on U.S. soil could well be an acceptable middle ground.”
Brazil and Argentina have also tightened port entry procedures for ships coming from West Africa in order to prevent the virus spreading to their countries..
The UK Chamber of Shipping said yesterday it was liaising with the Department of Transport who is expected to shortly provide maritime specific advice to port and shipping operators.
The death toll so far has reached over 3,400 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the most severely affected countries which have very weak health systems.
Brazil’s health surveillance agency Anvisa said this week ships which docked in Ebola-affected countries in the last 21 days will receive clearance to dock at Brazilian ports only after a thorough analysis of medical records and logs showing medicine used, writes Reuters.
Origin countries include Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
Cruise lines have already started to feel the consequences of their cancellation of stops in West Africa prompted by Ebola outbreak.
As reported by Bloomberg, Carnival, the largest operator, lost as much as 4.8 percent in New York, while Norwegian was down 3.1 percent.
World Maritime News Staff, October 9, 2014