Southern Ports responds to virus threat

Port protects workers: Southern Ports Authority confirms it is implementing measures to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Supplied.
Port protects workers: Southern Ports Authority confirms it is implementing measures to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Supplied.

Government trading enterprise Southern Ports Authority has confirmed it is taking precautions as the world grapples with the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The respiratory illness, which is believed to have originated from the city of Wuhan in mainland China, has claimed more than 1,000 lives since it was first reported in December, 2019.

A Southern Ports Authority spokesperson told the Esperance Express the organisation would continue to consult with its staff on the latest advice from the Department of Health and the precautions that needed to be taken. To date, it is understood there has not been any impact to ships scheduled to arrive from China at the authority's three ports.

However, vessels, crew or passengers that have left, or transited through, mainland China on or after February 1 are subject to additional coronavirus requirements - requirements being enforced by national border force personnel.

"The Australian Border Force is managing the entry of ships and ship crews into Australian ports," the spokesperson said.

"The Border Force, in conjunction with Department of Health, has set out national protocols for managing the screening of crews on arriving foreign vessels. Once ships crews have been allowed entry by the Border Force, we continue to welcome them into our communities and hope they enjoy their time ashore after long voyages at sea."

The requirements come just weeks after the national maritime union called on the federal government to implement adequate checks for coronavirus infections on vessels arriving at Australian ports. Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said Australian ports could provide an entry point for deadly diseases and other biological security threats.

"Australia's ports are accessed every day by foreign ships," he said.

"It shouldn't be left to these workers to provide Australia's response to an international, viral threat."