Air, Forwarding, Freight News, Logistics, Sea

Ports call for more Port Health funds to fight Coronavirus

[ February 10, 2020   //   ]

The British Ports Association (BPA) is calling for more funding and support to be given to UK local authority Port Health officials to help combat the Coronavirus. It follows the Health Secretary’s statement on 10 February that the virus is a ”serious and imminent threat” to public health.

BPA chief executive, Richard Ballantyne,  that while the risks are still low, local authorities need additional public support to devise their emergency plans in case the situation escalates.

Port health authorities, which are managed by local authorities, have a critical role to play in ensuring the Coronavirus does not further spread to the UK via ports and airports.

However, he pointed out that the risks in the maritime sector in the UK are still very low as it typically takes between 30-40 days to sail from China so any crew who develop the virus should do so in this time.

However port health authorities will need to manage risks from flights and shorter sailings, said the BPA.

Some UK port health authorities have also implemented enhanced screening measures such as requesting Maritime Declarations of Health from vessels that have called at Chinese ports, interviewing crew and disseminating travel advice.

Ballantyne added: “ While Port Health Authorities and their front line staff are doing a good job in the current climate we do however have some concerns that some would not have adequate resources to deal with the Wuhan Coronavirus should it spread. It’s although worth considering the increased role port health officers will need to potentially play once the UK ends the Brexit transition period when new routine environmental health controls could come into force.”

Meanwhile insurance provider, TT Club has produced a briefing compiled with the assistance of specialist international lawyers, HFW, outlining how freight forwarders, logistics service providers and other intermediaries can protect themselves legally and minimise their liabilities during the ongoing disruption to freight transport services.

These include restrictions due to labour shortages at ports and cancellations of inland transport links in China, factory closures and reduced transport schedules.

The briefing urges transport operators to be proactive in their communication as the value of the operator’s service to his customer and his protection against future liability claims lies in good, accurate communication.

“Up-to-date status reports on their cargo’s progress, or lack of it, are vital to shippers,” emphasises TT Club’s risk management director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox.  “Forwarders and logistics operators will certainly prove their mettle if they can consistently make customers aware of the ongoing attempts to problem-solve.  Careful recording of communication trails detailing such actions will also help in any disputes in the future.”