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2 COVID-19 cases in marine sector may have breached safety measures; action taken against employer

Following recent cases, more than 20,000 marine sector workers will undergo additional COVID-19 swabs, including rostered routine testing every 7 days.

2 COVID-19 cases in marine sector may have breached safety measures; action taken against employer

Maritime vessels are seen anchored on the waters south of Singapore. (File photo: AFP/ROSLAN RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: Authorities in Singapore are investigating if two marine sector employees who recently tested positive for COVID-19 had breached safe management measures at work. 

The two employees are the marine surveyor at Lloyd's Register Singapore who tested positive on Dec 29, and the marine service engineer at Master Systems Marine who tested positive on Nov 26.

The marine surveyor is among four people in a new cluster involving two Raffles Girls' School students, while the marine service engineer had dinner with 12 family members at a Seoul Garden outlet days before he tested positive.

"Preliminary investigations reveal that the marine surveyor, like the marine service engineer who tested positive for COVID-19 infection earlier on Nov 26, consumed food provided by or with the crew onboard the ships, which was against a precautionary measure," said a joint media release on Saturday (Jan 2) by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

"The agencies are also investigating if there had been any breach of COVID-19 safe management measures."

For the case involving the marine service engineer, MPA has stopped the company, Master Systems Marine, from sending any of its personnel to work onboard ships. This will continue until the company can show that its employees will adhere to safe management measures onboard ships.  

For the latest case involving the marine surveyor, Lloyd’s Register Singapore has suspended all its shipboard survey and audit activities. The company will also be testing all its marine surveyors for COVID-19.  

"Further actions may be taken against the companies and individuals after investigations have been completed," said the authorities.

ADDITIONAL TESTING FOR 20,000 EMPLOYEES

A harbour pilot who works at PSA Marine was also among the recent COVID-19 cases in the sector. He is among four cases in a family cluster, three of whom are from the same household at Marine Crescent. 

In light of these infections, MPA will tighten the testing regime for all shore-based personnel going onboard ships, covering more than 20,000 personnel.

They will need to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within the next seven days - between Jan 2 and 8 - to ensure that they are clear of the virus.

They will also have to undergo rostered routine testing every seven days instead of 14 days.

"Those who do not adhere to the rostered routine testing regime will not be allowed to board ships to work," said the authorities.

Singapore conducts rostered routine testing for groups of workers considered high risk, such as those in the construction, marine and process sectors.

READ: COVID-19: Enhanced crew-changing procedures, new holding and quarantine facilities for seafarers

All shore-based personnel are also required by MPA to give advance notice before they board ships to carry out works or provide services. Firm action will be taken against the ship's owner, master or agent for non-compliance, said the authorities.

For shipyards, EDB had introduced mandatory precautionary measures on Dec 21.

"Shipyards should only issue shipyard acceptance letters to ships seeking repairs when a ship is compliant with these measures," the media release stated.

In addition, shipyards should only allow shore-based personnel to board a ship for work when all crew have tested negative for COVID-19 on arrival at the shipyard. 

"Failure to comply could result in EDB enforcing work suspensions and/or financial penalties," said the authorities.

The agencies said they will step up checks to ensure companies and individuals comply with COVID-19 safe management measures, adding that they will also review the need to enhance personal protective equipment and infection control measures in the sector. 

READ: Singapore reports 5 COVID-19 community cases, forming 2 new clusters

Singapore confirmed 33 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest number since Sep 15 when 34 cases were reported. All the new cases were imported and there were no local infections.

The total number of cases in Singapore stands at 58,662.

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Source: CNA/lk(gs)

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