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Shipping & Logistics

Coronavirus screening stepped up at port

Ms Marco Polo cruise ship
The Ms Marco Polo cruise ship that is docking within the port of Mombasa after arriving with 1,000 tourists who will stay until tomorrow in this picture taken on 13 Feb 2020. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NMG 

The government is conducting mandatory screening in all points of entry including Mombasa sea port as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cause fears globally.

Surveillance systems and medical mechanisms have been put in place at all ports of entry with health teams conducting vigorous COVID-19 screening to individuals entering Kenya through the sea.

Two weeks ago, more than 600 high-end tourists arrived in the country on board MS Marco Polo, and went through a thorough screening before they were allowed to disembark from the cruise ship that docked at the Port of Mombasa.

The tourists who were mostly from United Kingdom commended Kenya for taking drastic measures to ensure safety, saying there is a heightened concern over the deadly disease worldwide.

The arrival of the vessel, which has been cruising in Africa, was a boost to tourism. However, the arrival of the UK-owned vessel coincided with coronavirus outbreak that has caused most ports to enhance screening.

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The ship is the second cruise vessel of the season to call at the Port of Mombasa with 644 passengers and 340 crew members.

“Where we suspect that there is an incident, we have facilities to quarantine the individual. We also have experts at the port who are able to diagnose, treat or transfer victims to other hospitals,” said the Kenya Ports Authority managing director, Dr Daniel Manduku said.

Port health team boarded the vessel at around 8am and conducted screening to all the passengers and crew before they disembarked and went on a safari in different tourist attractions sites.

“At the Port of Mombasa, we have already issued a circular on regulations and guidelines on how to treat suspected cases,” the KPA boss said.

Deeksha Ginwla from UK said she was happy that Kenya has heightened security at the seas ports.

Dr Manduku said the port has not had any COVID-19 suspected case adding that all port of entries across the country have been secured.

Inchcape Shipping Services global vice president, cruise solutions, Grant Holmes said the chances of the vessel having any suspected COVID-19 case are zero.

“This is because it has been travelling around Africa with very limited connection with people especially from China,” he said.

The outbreak which originated from China, has caused global panic which saw a US cruise ship rejected five times to dock by ports over fears of the disease.

Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Guan and Thailand had denied MS Westerdam entry despite none of the passengers on board being diagnosed with the deadly disease.

The cruise ship was finally allowed to dock in Cambodia.

The World Health Organization warned nations could face a serious problem if they fail to “hit hard now” against the virus.

Globally, over 70,000 people have been infected while about 10,000 have recovered.

Kenya has put in place measures to prevent the virus from getting its way into the country, with Kenya Airways suspending flights to Guangzhou in January.

Two new testing facilities were recently set up as laboratories at the National Influenza Centre, which is under the National Public Health Laboratories, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

Chinese authorities have placed tens of millions of people under quarantine in hard-hit central Hubei province and restricted movements in other cities far from the epicentre.

Many nations have banned travellers from China and airlines have suspended flights to and from the country.

The outgoing Health Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki said travellers have been screened across various points of entry.

“Ongoing mandatory screening in all points of entry including Mombasa sea port to minimise the risk of importation of the virus from affected countries,” she said.

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