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.