Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Ministry of Transportation's Directorate General of Sea Transportation heightened its supervision and alertness in ports in the effort to anticipate the coronavirus (nCoV) from entering the country.

Such efforts were applied following the World Health Organization's decision to declare the spread of the coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

"It means that there has been an emergency in the public health that has caught international attention. This refers to extraordinary events that have something to do with the health of the general public, which is why we increase our surveillance measures towards ships that come from China into Indonesian ports, as well as their cargoes, in order to anticipate the coronavirus," said the Ministry's Director of Sea and Coast Guard Unit, Ahmad, in a statement received here, Sunday.

Every ship that enters Indonesia from China will have to dock in the Quarantine Zone for rigorous inspection by the Port Health Office (KKP) officers.

Additionally, ocean going vessels would need to submit their voyage memos of the last ten ports when reporting their arrivals to the Port Health Office. Should the vessel had stopped in China, officers would carry out rigorous inspections.

"If there are people with suspected symptoms of novel coronavirus, there will be special medical measures applied, in accordance with the standard operating procedure released by the Port Health Office," he said.

He also explained that the Ministry's Directorate General of Sea Transportation and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries have installed thermal scanners in the arrival areas of the ports that served international routes.

"Every passenger who has just arrived, especially from countries where cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, such as China, must pass through a body temperature scanner to have him or her checked. If it is high, the officers will carry out further examinations, "he explained.

In Batam, for instance, ports that serve international arrivals have installed thermal scanners at international entrances such as Sekupang Harbor, Harbor Bay, Tanjung Priok, Tanjung Balai Karimun, Bintan and other ports.

"If the officers identify passengers with over 38 degrees Celcius body temperature and are experiencing cough, fever, flu, and respiratory problems, and have a record of having travelled to and from China, the port officers will immediately coordinate with those from the local Port Health Office," he said.

Personnel that are on duty in the ports are also instructed to wear protective gears.

"At the very least, they have to wear masks and gloves," he added.

As a background, the response to the corona virus outbreak was the sixth emergency declaration ever issued by WHO. It had previously issued emergency declarations for the 2005 SARS outbreak and H5N1 bird flu in the early 2000s.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also issued circular letters to all IMO Member States, seafarers and shipping companies following the WHO Global Emergency Declaration on the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Letter contained information and guidance on the precautions that must be taken to minimize the risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board and to ensure that the entire global maritime community receives accurate and relevant information about the virus outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of corona .

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Translator: Juwita Trisna Rahayu/Aria Cind
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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