Seven people working with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) since the disease was first reported in the country mid last month.
In a statement on Tuesday, acting Managing Director, Engineer Rashid Salim, said four of those who tested positive are KPA staff while three are contracted cleaners working at the Port.
To contain the spread of the virus that has killed two of its workers, Salim said the company has appointed a committee of senior managers which has been charged with the role of planning, managing and coordinating the authority’s preparedness to combat the pandemic.
The members of staff, who the government said succumbed to COVID-19, were identified as James Onyango and Ursula Buluma.
“Unfortunately, we have since lost two members of staff to the disease while all those who had contacts with the patients have been identified and are being monitored in quarantine within Mombasa,” said Salim, who was appointed the acting managing director for KPA after the resignation of Daniel Manduku.
Some of the measures the authority has put in place to prevent infections at the port of Mombasa include fumigation of offices which were occupied by the staff who tested positive for COVID-19, equipping the staff with protective gear at all times where necessary and setting up over 100 handwashing points in the institution.
“Surgical gowns have been acquired for clinical staff and those with close interaction with vessels such as pilots and security officers,” said Salim.
The authority has also set up isolation rooms at the Bandari Clinic where suspected patients are temporarily held waiting for public health officers to pick them up.
Staff who have attained the age of 58-years have also been advised to work from home inline with the government’s directive.
“The management has also released staff above 58 years of age and those with pre-medical conditions to work from respective homes in order to avoid crowds at the workplace in line with the government circular,” he noted.
The management has also embraced online cargo documentation processes to facilitate in the clearing of cargo electronically.
Salim said KPA has rolled out detailed procedures including undertaking mandatory pre-arrival report at least 48 hours before vessels arrive within Kenya’s territorial waters.
“All arriving vessels with passengers with recent travel history to countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days must undergo special monitoring and Port Health must issue restricted pratique,” he said.
“Crew or passengers of vessels from confirmed COVID-19 countries will not be granted shore passes. Only Kenyans and foreigners with valid residence permits will be allowed to disembark after the presentation of Health Declaration forms and by the health authorities,” he added.
The authority further requires Masters of all ships due to arrive in a Kenyan port to declare their last 10 ports of call or voyage memo for the last three months.
“Ship crew change is temporarily suspended until further notice. The exception is given to Kenyan crew and persons with valid resident permits,” said Salim.
The ships arriving from countries hit by COVID-19 will no longer be allowed to discharge garbage at any Kenyan Port, the MD said.