More Ships Quarantined as Ports Continue Fight Against COVID-19

commercial ships continue to be quarantined in ports around the world due to COVID-19
Maersk Idaho on an earlier voyage - courtesy of Alf van Beem/Wikimedia Commons

Published Jun 25, 2020 5:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ports around the world are continuing to struggle to manage operations during the coronavirus pandemic. While many countries have begun to relax some restrictions on their citizens, ports remain on guard as new cases continue to appear on arriving ships.

Several ports were highlighted for a high number of cases, including Santos, Brazil, which in May had at least six ships in quarantine. While all of those ships have been cleared and most are back in service, new reports are continuing to appear in different ports around the world.

A Maltese-flagged product tanker, the Minerva Oceania, has just been placed in quarantine at the port in Antwerp. Reuters is reported that 15 of the 26 crew members on board tested positive for COVID-19. Two crew members were reportedly moved to a hospital but are not in serious condition. The tanker arrived on June 19 after a voyage from Qatar. The Minerva Oceania will be held until at least early July.

Last week, the 4658 TEU container ship Maersk Idaho arrived in the Port of New York where one crew member was hospitalized and later tested positive for the virus. The ship, however, had sailed on June 20 for its next port, but according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper remains at anchor off Norfolk as the shipping line was advised of the situation before the ship reached the Virginia dock.

Maersk’s general counsel told the newspaper that the company would quarantine the crew on shore while arranging for the vessel to be cleaned and a new crew brought aboard. Nine of the approximately 20 crew members aboard the Maersk Idaho have reportedly tested positive for the virus. They are said to all be asymptomatic currently. 

In these two most recent cases, port employees and the local communities were not exposed to the virus, however, that has not always been the case. Local officials in Busan, South Korea are currently linking a recent outbreak to two Russian cargo ships that were in port. In addition to 22 positive tests among the two ships’ crew, hundreds of people, including longshoremen, are testing positive after having reportedly come in contact with the crew.

These latest reports come as other ships have successfully cleared quarantine. Hamburg Sud’s container ship the Cap San Lorenzo has been in Algeciras since arriving on June 12 and just cleared quarantine. A crew member reported was infected in Santos, Brazil but the ship later continued to Europe where the quarantine began. The ship is expected to sail in the next few days.

Citing cases such as these, port authorities around the world are continuing to maintain their strict protocols seeking to prevent the spread of the virus and protect their local communities.