We have just been made aware of a new case involving stowaways that boarded a vessel in West Africa by our correspondents in South Africa.
The vessel arrived in South Africa with six stowaways on board and the vessel was not allowed to berth because local health authorities were concerned about the identity of the stowaways and their nationality and whether the stowaways could be infected with the Ebola virus. The vessel suffered considerable delays as well as additional costs because the authorities in South Africa are adopting very rigorous procedures for any ships that may be carrying stowaways (or of course crew) on board that may be carrying the virus and no doubt other countries will be doing the same.
No doubt all ship owners are aware of the outbreak of Ebola and are taking appropriate precautions when vessels are scheduled to call at West African ports. The vessels will be boarded by numerous people who could have come into contact with people with the virus. No doubt vessels are adopting safeguards to protect the crew from such exposure to the virus.
We attach a link to International SOS which has a lot of very useful information on the outbreak in West Africa, and is regularly updated ( https://www.internationalsos.com/ebola/ ).
Vessels calling at West African ports also need to exercise greater diligence with regard to stowaways gaining access to the vessel; and should the vessel then depart with stowaways on board, the vessel may be delayed or detained at her next port whilst local health officials check all the individuals on board.
The vessels may be further delayed if there are stowaways on board the vessel as local health officials will want a full investigation carried out as to the nationality of the stowaways and whether they are from areas which have been declared hotspots by the World Health Organization.
With thanks to P&I Associates for their assistance with this circular.