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Anvisa publishes guidelines for embarkation of crew

In order to set forth best practice on crew change in face of the pandemic, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) published guidelines and necessary procedures for embarkation and disembarkation of crew members of vessels and platforms in Brazil.

The text compiles guidelines on screening crew members on a work schedule and preventive measures for embarkation and disembarkation of symptomatic and asymptomatic crew members. The following guideline has been published by Anvisa.

Care of the crew on vessels and platforms

One of the essential measures is the screening of the crew, before the start of the work schedule, to identify possible cases of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19, in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

The guideline states that crew members must therefore comply with a 14-day quarantine at home or in a hotel before embarking on vessel/platform. In those 14 days they will have their health monitored and, if they show respiratory symptoms or fever, they should be prevented from boarding.

The document also lists measures for the disembarkation of symptomatic and asymptomatic crew members, as well as the use of rapid tests, in addition to presenting tables with guidelines in the form of summary topics on home quarantine, quarantine in hotels, guidelines for mandatory isolation and hygiene procedures for the means of transport of those suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As already informed in our previous updates the disembarkation of foreing crewmembers in Brazil remains prohibited until the end of May, except in cases of direct repatriation or for medical assistance.

See the full text of the guideline here.

COVID-19: Repatriation of foreigners

Due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the arrival of foreigners in Brazil by sea is restricted until the end of May. Currently, the entry of foreigners is authorised in two situations: for emergency medical care or for return to the country of origin by air.

Landing for repatriation is subject to authorisation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) and must be accompanied by Anvisa and the Federal Police. Understand how the repatriation process works in these cases:

Company responsibilities

The company responsible for the vessel (such as carrier or shipping agent) shall be responsible for the stay of the foreigner in Brazil in addition of having to organise the repatriation proceedings.

The company will need to carry out a formal consultation with the MRE for disembarkation and repatriation and to arrange all that is related to flights, dates and times. According to Technical Note 86/2020, the entire travel, accommodation and air transportation procedure must be provided by the company.

How to apply for repatriation

The company must provide the MRE with basic information, such as the location of foreigners, with reference to the vessel or quarantine hotel, the number of people to be repatriated and the date of the operation, with indication of flights and departure times. On the other hand, with the closing of the borders, the MRE will confirm whether the country of destination of the crew member will allow his return.

Definition of communication flow for the repatriation of foreigners in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic:

1. Report

Considering the implementation of restrictive movement measures, in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic (SARSCoV-2), it is necessary to define a specific flow to communicate the repatriation operations of foreigners who are in Brazilian territory.

2. Analysis

In this document we present the procedures for communication regarding the repatriation of foreigners who are on board vessels or remain in quarantine in hotels, after disembarking from vessels or connecting flights and/or stopover in Brazil.

The actions involving the repatriation operations were agreed in the Executive Interministerial Group on Public Health Emergency of National and International Importance – GEI-ESPII, instated by Decree nº 10.211, of January 30, 2020.

It is up to the company responsible for the stay and accompaniment of the foreigner, to organise the repatriation operation, solving the questions related to flights, dates and times. In addition, the company must consult with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – MRE (Secretariat for National Sovereignty and Citizenship Affairs – Tel: + 5561-2030-8733, e-mail [email protected]).

The formal position of the MRE on the possibility of repatriation will be forwarded to Anvisa’s International Affairs Advisory (AINTE/Anvisa) through the electronic mail [email protected].

The authorisation for the repatriation operation, issued by the MRE, must contain, at least, the following information: location of the foreigners (with the name of the vessel and its berth or the name of the hotel where they remain in quarantine and their location), number of foreigners which will be repatriated and the date of the repatriation operation. The responsible company must also present more detailed information, signalling the airport of departure for the repatriation flight(s), with the times of the flights.

After receiving a formal response from the MRE on the repatriation operation, AINTE will forward it to the General Management of Ports, Airports, Borders and Customs Enclosures (GGPAF) and Infrastructure Management, Means of Transport and Traveller in PAF (GIMTV) for sending to Coordination of Health Surveillance in PAF (CVPAF) that will accompany the operation.

3. Conclusion

The defined communication flow aims to ensure the pace and security of the foreigners’ repatriation process.

New measures in Brazilian Public Ports

Provisional Measure No. 945/2020 was issued by the Brazilian Federal Government, which deals with temporary measures in response to the pandemic resulting from the Covid-19 in the scope of the port sector and on the assignment of yards under military administration.

This Provisional Measure, according to the Federal Government, aims to ensure a safer environment for dockworkers, in addition to recognising the essentiality of Port Operations.

The Executive Order from April 4, changes the Daily call for casual dockworkers, who carry out loading and unloading operations in Brazilian Public Ports.

Currently, these workers are called to engage amidst large agglomerations in the ports, which in times of pandemic is not recommended. The Provisional Measure establishes that the Manpower Management Agencies (OGMO) must carry out the call for casual dockwers by eletronical means only, so that the worker appears at the port only at the time needed and in order to avoid further agglomerations within port area.

The Provisional Measure provides that the Manpower Management Agencies will not be able to call or engage in operation any dockworker who:

  • a) present symptoms compatible with covid-19 (i. dry cough; ii. sore throat; iii. breathing difficulty);
  • b) have been diagnosed with covid-19;
  • c) who are pregnant or lactating;
  • d) aged 60 or over; and
  • e) who have immunodeficiency or respiratory diseases or chronic or severe pre-existing diseases.

In this context, the Provisional Measure assures workers in the above situations the right to receive a monthly compensatory indemnity of 50% of the monthly income average received between October 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, as long as impediment persists.

It is worth mentioning that casual dockworkers, retired or enjoying any other benefit granted by the General Social Security Regime or their own social security regime, as well as those who perceive the assistance benefit for individual dockworkers, provided for in Law No. 9,719 of November 27, 1998, will not be entitled to the indemnity provided for in the Provisional Measure.

The payment of compensatory indemnities will be borne by Port Operators and will be calculated in proportion to the amount of the monthly service demanded.

The aforementioned amount will be calculated and collected by the Manpower Management Authority and later passed on to the casual dockworkers.

Port Operators will be entitled to a discount on port tariffs in the amount equivalent to the increase in cost, resulting from the payment of indemnity, or economic and financial re-balancing of their contracts, in cases where they have lease agreements with the public port.

In the Provisional Measure, it was also adjusted that the benefit to be paid to dockworkers may be excluded from net income for purposes of determining corporate income tax and Social Contribution on Net Income of legal entities taxed by taxable income.

The Provisional Measure establishes that in the event of unavailability of casual dockwers to meet the work demand, Port Operators may freely hire workers with an employment contract for a specified time to carry out services as foreman, block, stowage, cargo conference services, cargo repair and vessel surveillance.

The hiring of workers with an employment relationship based on unavailability cannot exceed the period of 12 months. In addition, it will possible to engage contract directly with workers that or not authorised or registred with the Manpower Management Authority (OGMO).

Said Provisional Measure, guarantees Port Operators flexibility in the exclusivity of hiring labour from the Manpower Management Authority (OGMO) system.

It is worth mentioning that the new rule issued by the Federal Government, considered unavailability of port workers as any cause that results in the immediate non-fulfilment of calls submitted by Port Operators to OGMO, such as strikes, shutdown movements and standard operation.

Finally, the Provisional Measure encourages multi-functionality, to ensure that port operations are not suspended or delayed due to a lack of qualified labour.

Thus, regardless of collective bargaining, new registration or past registration casual dockworkers may perform the activities of any of the categories (foreman, stowage, cargo checking, cargo repair, vessel surveillance, block), provided they have the necessary qualification for that purpose.

Brazilian ports and navigation remain in operation, reports ANTAQ

In view of the worsening of the coronavirus epidemic in Brazil, the country’s port terminals have reinforced the security measures and containment of the spread of Covid-19, according to guidelines from health authorities and the federal government. However, there is already a concern about possible logistical bottleneck due to the crisis.

The first fear is the very need to dismiss employees. Industry officials and executives have reiterated that there is no forecast for any port terminal shutdown, as occurred in China. The standard measure has been to implement remote work for administrative areas, release employees from risk groups and expand precautionary measures for those who work directly in the port operation.

Agribusiness & Port Logistics

A letter signed by almost 50 entities representing agribusiness segment was addressed on Wednesday, 18, to the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, and to the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, requesting support from the federal government to guarantee the functioning of the national port logistics amid the coronavirus crisis.

Public & Private Ports In Operation

The National Waterway Transportation Agency (ANTAQ) announced today, 20, that public (including delegates), private and other port facilities remain in operation, as well as coastal and long-haul transportation activities.

In a note, ANTAQ clarified that only the Union will be able to determine the closure of port facilities in all Brazilian states or the suspension of service provision on interstate and international waterway transportation lines. The legal basis is Article 22, item X, of the Federal Constitution, and Ordinance 125, of March 19th, 2020, of the Presidency of the Republic.

“At the moment, the unrestricted suspension of passenger transport is not a measure indicated by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). The complete suspension of this service could harm access to medical care, the displacement of health professionals, the supply of vaccines , supplies and medicines for the Brazilian states,” added ANTAQ in its statement.

Cabotage

The Brazilian Association of Cabotage Shipowners (Abac) reported that the modal remains active. The companies associated with Abac have taken actions to protect their employees and contribute to the prevention of the contagion of Covid-19, following the guidelines of the country’s health authorities. The measures safely guarantee the continuity of cabotage services, always within the principles of preventing and maintaining the supply of products to society.

Santos Port

On Wednesday, operation in Santos Port was threatened due to a possible halt of the stevedores work, who even sent a letter to the authorities announcing their decision to stop working. The situation was, in principle, contained in a meeting between port authority, representatives of companies and unions.

The Santos Port Authority (SPA) published a note stating that maritime and road access are “open without any restrictions” and that it “acts to guarantee the full functioning” of the port. The agency has taken security measures since the beginning of the crisis.

Container terminals DP World, Santos Brasil and Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) have reinforced their security measures and dismissed employees, but said there is no impact on activities.

The port operation could also be impacted in other ways, in addition to an employee stoppage itself. One of the concerns, for example, is in relation to the release of the cargo by inspection agencies, such as the Federal Revenue Service, the Ministry of Agriculture or the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), which need to verify imports.

The fear is that, with the delay, a huge queue will be generated. For now, the operations proceeds normally.

According to the president of Portos do Paraná, Luiz Fernando Garcia da Silva (who manages Paranaguá and Antonina), there is no forecast of an impact on the operation in the State, “unless there are mobility problems, as there was in China”. At the height of the crisis in the Asian country, one of the bottlenecks for cargo transport was the restriction of truck drivers, who interrupted activities.

According to the National Association of Cargo Transport and Logistics, it is too early to say whether there will be an impact on cargo transport, which will depend on the worsening of the epidemic. In March, the assessment is that the movement has been positive, driven by the soybean harvest.

In general, the assessment of executives and analysts about the current scenario is highly uncertain, and the forecasts seem to change every day. The fear – and the main scenario to be avoided panic, that could lead to a complete halt in activities and logistical chaos in the country.

Stevedores Union threatening to stop working in Santos Port

At a meeting held at the headquarters of the Union of Stevadores of Santos, São Vicente, Guarujá and Cubatão (SOPESP), which was attended by all the presidents of the professional unions, a series of measures was decided on the operational continuity of the Port of Santos, last Tuesday (17th).

The Union sent a letter to the National Secretariat of Ports and Waterway Transport expressing the need for a complete halt of operations in the Port of Santos, starting this Wednesday, 18th, due to the worsening of the pandemic generated by the Coronavirus in Brazil.

In the letter, the union president stressed that stevedores are exposed to high risk, since they work on the front lines and are subject to high contamination, because the vessels come from countries facing the pandemic. The Stevedore Union added that most federal, executive, legislative and judicial bodies have stopped their physical operations.

According to the chairman of the management board of the São Paulo State Secretariat for Logistics and Transport, Roberto Giannetti, “stopping the port of Santos would be putting millions of Brazilians at risk, since supply could stop between 60 and 90 days if the strike was declared “.

This means that many industrial inputs and imported basic consumer products could go into shortages, especially of hospital medical supplies essential for the crisis period. It is worth mentioning that the Government has determined that a series of medical products import tax will be lowered to zero and they will have priority treatment in customs clearance procedures.

Santos Port Authority (SPA) highlighted, in a note, that, together with the port community, it acting to guarantee the full functioning of the Port of Santos, respecting the determinations of the Health authorities.

There will be even more negotiations between the stevedores in order to reach a final understanding. Meanwhile, all port activities continue to be carried out normally.

Brazilian Health Agency publishes coronavirus preventative measures

Earlier this month, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) released a Technical Norm with measures and actions to be taken against the coronavirus.

The Agency recommended that anyone working at points of entry into the country, such as ports, airports and borders, should wear surgical masks. And if there is any suspicious case, in addition to the mask, apron, goggles and gloves should be used.

Free Pratique

Ships flying foreign flags can only berth at Brazilian ports if they have a Free Pratique Certificate issued by Anvisa. Inspection for the purpose of issuing a Free Pratique Certificate is a procedure adopted a long time ago by Anvisa and follows the rules of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Sanitary inspection and Free Pratique is one of the main instruments to curb the international spread of diseases by means of foreign ships.

The Free Pratique Certificate is requested by the ship between 48 hours and 24 hours before the ship arrives at the port, allowing Anvisa to evaluate the ships operational and hygienic-sanitary conditions and the health status of crew members, based on the analysis of the information presented upon request and/or a health inspection carried out on the vessel.

The new Technical Norm states that now any vessel that called at Chinese Ports in the last 30 days, must present a Medical Logbook – which brings all records of health events on board – when requesting the issuance of a Free Certificate Pratique.

In case of suspicion that any crew member has symptoms of CORONAVIRUS, the Free Pratique will only be issued, after the agency and the epidemiological surveillance carry out inspection on the vessel and on the patient.

In the meantime, the ship is not authorised to operate and passengers or crew cannot disembark. The crew member suspected of having CORONAVIRUS should be kept in a private place, preferably in the cabin, untill an evaluation by the health authority is carried out, as defined in the local Contingency Plan.

After evaluation, it will be defined if the Crew member will be discarded as a suspect, kept on board in quarentine or removed to a hospital to be designated.If the virus is confirmed, the ship may undergo disinfection or quarantine. And if the suspicion is not confirmed, the Free Pratique will be issue.

The Maritime Health Declaration (DMS) must be filled out correctly and in a complete form for evaluation regarding the issue of Free Pratique.

As defined by the Ministry of Health, China is the country considered an area affected by 2019-nCov and, when filling out the DMS, it must be so noted.

Anvisa also recommended the use of personal protective equipment by pilots, employees of the Federal Revenue Service, the Federal Police, the Agricultural Services Surveillance (SVA) and the Brazilian Navy and other workers who are in direct contact with crew members from China, such as Port Workers, shipg agents, among others.

The Agency announced yesterday on their website that it is adopting an additional measure, verifying the origin of the crew members who recently boarded the ships. In this case, the Agency has also checked the place of embarkation to see if there is a possibility of suspected coronavirus.

Bill 23/20 was presented to the National Congress and approved on an urgent basis, since it defines the rules for confronting the new coronavirus. The text of the law provides for actions such as isolation, quarantine and closing ports, highways and airports for entering and leaving Brazil, in specific cases that endanger the health security of Brazilians.

Therefore, if the situation worsens, the Government now has a legal provision that allows temporary restriction of access to foreign ships and crew in Brazilian Ports.