COVID-19: NPA clarifies six sick persons on board vessel visited oil rig offshore Lagos



The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Friday confirmed that the six sick persons on board a vessel visited an Oil Rig, Siem Marlin, on high sea offshore Lagos and not to a terminal in the port.

The NPA in statement signed by Jatto Adams, General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications at the NPA, said its tweet at the National Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) was to clarify the issue to enable concerned industry stakeholders understand that no cases of six persons on board a vessel called to the ports.

The NPA said: “Following public reactions to attempts by the Nigerian Ports Authority to get full details of COVID-19 cases said to have been found on a vessel, the Authority wishes to make the following clarifications.

 “The NPA, by its tweet on Thursday March 26, did not contradict the information released to the public by the National Centre for Disease Control. (NCDC). What the tweet sought (repeated below) to do was get full details of incident for purposes of record and better management in the future.”

The NPA, therefore, stated its tweet, “Hello @NCDC. In respect to the 6 new cases that “were detected on a vessel” in Lagos, the Authority in collaboration with Port Health has not recorded any confirmed cases to date.

To enable verification and proper record keeping, kindly avail us with specific details on the name of the Vessel the passengers were on board, and the terminal or Jetty where they berthed.”

It said: “The NPA needed the clarification to reassure its stakeholders who raised concern over the announcement that six cases were found on a vessel when they as shipping companies, terminal operators, and jetty operators did not witness any such passengers through their respective COVID-19 protocol.”

The NPA also explained its protocol put in place to manage situations should there be a sick person on board any vessel that “The NPA and Ports Health Services have set clear protocols on the identification of sick people on vessels and the management of suspected and confirmed cases in line with best practices set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“The protocol is that: The Captain of any vessel with a sick person(s) on board must fly two yellow flags;  This done, personnel of the Port Health Services will go into the vessel at berth, inspect it and in cases where there is a person on board, they will quarantine the ship and immediately escalate to the Lagos State Ministry of Health; The Ministry of Health will send an epidemiologist who will go on board with Port Health, take samples from the suspected sick person and then report to the NCDC.

“The NCDC has now clarified that these cases were discovered on an Oil Rig, Siem Marlin on the High Sea, offshore Lagos and accessed by the Lagos State Government and the NCDC by Helicopter.

“Maritime stakeholders would not have been so apprehensive if it was clear that the passengers were on a rig.

“This clarification has renewed the confidence of stakeholders in the effectiveness of the processes put in place, which remains the principal objective of the Authority.

“Given the fact that the maritime industry is central to the management of the pandemic worldwide, the Nigerian Ports Authority is committed to working with all other agencies of government to ensure the safety of all Nigerians."

For the records, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in a briefing Thursday said that only vessels that have been at sea for more than 14 days would be allowed to dock in the nation's ports and crew members must be tested for COVID-19.