Ebola virus: Further spread in West Africa

Ebola virus

Published: 31 July 2014


Media reports, and our correspondents confirm, that a man travelling from Liberia to Lagos by plane has passed away from Ebola, which has led to ports, airports and land border crossings in Nigeria being placed on a heightened state of alert.

Nigerian response

This situation means that Nigerian port, customs and quarantine officials are aware of the issue and will give much greater scrutiny to vessels and crew that come from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three countries where the Ebola outbreak has so far been located.

Members with vessels calling in Nigeria, especially from the mentioned countries, should be prepared for greater scrutiny on arrival and for the period of their stay in Nigeria.

Masters will probably be closely questioned about crew movement and last port of call lists, therefore lists should be ready for inspection. Details regarding the venue and date of new crew joining should be prepared to further facilitate communication with local authorities.

Should any crewman fall ill, it would be best to immediately contact local correspondents for assistance, irrespective of the nature of the illness, given that port officials will be very sensitive any reports of illness and may impose quarantine restrictions quickly out of an abundance of caution.

Regional response

The Monrovia Port Authorities have issued a notice on 29 July 2014, advising that the wearing of protective masks and gloves with the carriage of sanitizer bottles are now mandatory for any person entering port premises or disembarking from ships. There are no other specific health-related controls implemented at this time.

All vessels arriving from any country with reported or suspected cases of Ebola, which include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, will need to be declared to Senegalese Maritime Authorities 24 hours in advance. Transport costs of health authorities from shore to vessels for health and quarantine inspections will be borne by vessels.

Sierra Leone
In contrast, no specific health measure or restriction has been implemented in the ports of Sierra Leone to date and seafarers are free to disembark vessels under normal conditions.

Other West African countries
As for other countries in West Africa, to date no specific measure of quarantine or travel restriction in relation to the Ebola outbreak have been notified which may affect vessels and crew calling at their ports.

Masters and crew should, however, be prepared for increased ad hoc attention being paid by port, customs and quarantine officials especially if the vessel previously called at a port in a country with a confirmed case.

France and Europe
France and other European Union countries have not yet implemented any quarantine or restriction measures at ports either for vessels coming from West Africa in relation to this outbreak.

Loss prevention advice

The Association has previously published a detailed guide to Ebola, personal health care and related issues of quarantine and safe port warranties.

It is worth repeating that diligent attention to personal health care by crews is key to preventing the catching and spreading of communicable diseases, including the following steps:

  • if calling at a port in a country with an outbreak, crews should limit time ashore and only go ashore if strictly necessary
  • frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer
  • avoid unnecessary physical contact, including close personal contact with strangers
  • do not consume or buy unknown food and beverages, in particular avoid so called "bush-meat" which is a primary method of the spread of the infection

The Association is grateful to Africa Marine Services in Nigeria, Ivory P&I in Ivory Coast and France P&I in Paris for contributing to this update.