Singapore has halted changes for seafarers with a recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka amid a surge in Covid-19 infections in neighbouring India
This is an extension of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) decision in late April to halt crew changes for seafarers with a recent travel history to India after the country’s health ministry barred short-term visitors who have recently visited India.
The order includes sign-on crew travelling to Singapore by air or who transited India on their connecting flights to Singapore and sign-off crew from vessels that have called at India.
Singapore re-opened as a crew-change hub in June 2020 and has facilitated over 100,000 crew changes in Singapore since. India is one of the largest providers of seafarers and officers to the maritime industry and the MPA’s decision was prompted by the severity of the second-wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.
More countries are expected to follow Singapore and the UAE’s Port of Fujairah has also banned crew changes locally for vessels arriving from Indian ports within the past 14 days. The ban extends to the Fujairah offshore anchorage.
Crew changes are also affected by the availability of vaccines. MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said more than 27,000 port and onshore marine personnel have been vaccinated. However, many seafarers originate from developing countries where the official rollout of vaccines is hampered by several factors including age-based rollouts and availability.
With owners insisting on vaccinated crew members and authorities placing restrictions on crew changes, shipping companies are now set to face immediate crew change delays and financial costs. This week, trade association InterManager said it intends to work separately to obtain Covid-19 vaccines for seafarers to speed up the process.
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