One of the reasons the Covid-19 outbreak is so hard to contain is that the coronavirus seems to enjoy travelling as much as we do.
Whether it’s on a plane, bus, or train, the coronavirus will find a way to hop from country to country, to infect as many people as possible.
This time, it’s chosen a ship as its transportation of choice.
Everything About the Imported COVID-19 Cases in S’pore That Came from a Single Ship
In the past week, 15 Filipino crew members that arrived in Singapore on a ship from India have tested positive for Covid-19.
All 15 had worked on the same vessel for repairs and refuelling, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
The vessel arrived in Singapore on 8 Aug, and the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported the first four cases on Thursday (13 Aug).
The remaining 11 cases were reported on Saturday (15 Aug), including 10 special pass holders and one work pass holder who had boarded the vessel between 8 Aug and 12 Aug to carry out essential repair and maintenance work.
Reader: Wait, ships are allowed to disembark here?
Well, yes and no.
Precautionary Measures Proved Valuable
According to CNA, ship crew members and passengers arriving in Singapore for short-term visits have not been allowed to disembark since 23 March, unless they have special prior approval from the MPA.
Fortunately, even though some were asymptomatic, all the crew members on this particular ship were swabbed for Covid-19 on the ship, where they stayed until their results came back.
We’re clearly not taking any chances.
The reason why they were tested was that they were close contacts of previous cases, said MOH.
Once their results came back positive, they were taken by ambulances to the hospital.
The remaining 22 crew members are currently quarantined on ]the ship, and provisions are lifted up to the ship to minimise contact.
Good Reason to be Wary of Ships
Remember the Diamond Princess?
I know that hearing those two words takes you back to the blissful month of February, where infections were under 100 and travel was still permitted.
For those who’ve forgotten, after just one man got infected with the Covid-19 virus on the Diamond Princess cruise, 700 people onboard ended up getting infected over the next few weeks, and six later died from the disease.
People are wary of vessels for this reason: due to the large number of people on board and the fact that they often come into close contact with each other for a significant period of time, it’s easy for a ship to become a huge Covid-19 cluster even if only one person is infected.
This is why ships arriving in Singapore are required to do the following:
- ensure that any suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infected crew on board the vessel received proper medical treatment before starting its journey to Singapore
- seek approval to enter the Port of Singapore if there are suspected Covid-19 cases on board or if it had conducted crew change in the past 14 days before arrival in Singapore
- submit the Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) to the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Port Health
Crew members are also required to record their temperature twice daily. The master of the vessel should isolate unwell crew members and passengers as well.
Even though the Covid-19 situation here is improving, we can’t take any chances.
The last thing we need in Singapore is our very own Diamond Princess.