Nigeria bans international vessels without thermal screening kits

Thermal screening tests in Nigeria. Credit: European Photopress Agency

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has banned all international vessels without thermal screening facilities from operating in Nigerian waters to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement, made by Dr. Bashir Jamoh, director general at NIMASA, also stated that any vessel or crew member onboard that has a travel history of visiting COVID-19 affected countries since the 1 February 2020 shall not be permitted to enter a Nigerian port from 30 march till 12 April.

Only vessels that have thermal screening facilities onboard for passengers and crew may be allowed in ports; the Nigerian Port Health officers will carry out the thermal screening and provide the clearance for disembarkation.

Dr. Jamoh explained that the purpose of the ban is to help shipping companies and maritime stakeholders follow advice provided by the World Health Organisation, as well as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

NIMASA has also developed a guidance for vessels operating in Nigerian waters explaining how to mitigate the spread of the virus through shipping activities.

“These are trying times and we must pull through together. That is why we have directed that all maritime stakeholders develop risk assessments and safety intervention guidelines for their personnel and operations on the areas of vulnerabilities of their maritime operations that can be affected by the COVID 19 pandemic, including, but not limited to, offshore operations such as crew changes, visits from onshore and other locations for provision of supplies, maintenance and repairs,” Dr. Jamoh said.

NIMASA will issue a further publication elaborating on the guidance that will include a schedule for ongoing offshore operations requiring new crew or crew changes from affected countries to ensure that pre-departure tests for COVID-19 are carried out. Self-isolation procedures will also be outlined in the publication.