• Mauricio Ibañez

HEALTH MEASURES IN EXTREMIS


The colombian maritime authority, DIMAR, was perhaps the first official institution in the country to issue warnings about the potential arrival of the virus coming from ships whose previous ports had been China, or whose crew had embarked in South East Asia or China regions. In this respect, restrictions were issued to all ports, not completely forbidding crew change, but limiting to special cases prior medical checkup. Shortly after this, as early as end of January, certain private terminals adopted their own protective measures in respect to special and additional EPP which had to be worn if boarding a vessel. Since then, and as the rest of the world followed, measures in Colombia took a more severe twist, until government ordinance of this mid March, restricting movements.

The week before such restriction, we at LBH Colombia had already taken provisional measures: anybody who was sick had to stay at home, as well as anybody who needed to take public transport to reach work. Exceptions to these related exclusively to operational personnel, since they were already under reasonable protection from each terminal´s restrictions, the ship´s own restrictions, and of course DIMAR measures.

When we simulated our operation from worst case scenarios, we concluded that only four administrative staff, namely our accountants and 2 of our FDA ladies, had special circumstances that would require moving their desk top to home, including large screens. However, as this week began it was imminent that a full blockade would be necessary, even though only 3 cases of corona virus were reported that far in Cartagena. So, while on Monday, 16 March the offices were packed with committed and daring young people, we took that day to instruct countrywise, a self mandatory work form home measure, except for operations staff, if or when they were required to come to the office for specific task.

Fortunately most port authorities formalities and documentation handling by customs, sanitary and fito sanitary authorities have also been flexible, therefore granting our operations a less hectic time to comply with government protocols.

During this outbreak, we have had 3 minor light flue cases, all fully recovered, and one staff member locked down at home after spending his vacation late February in Europe. This measure was government imposed quarantine, but he is working from home and shall return to his duties before end of the month. Corona virus check came out negative for him.

I am pleased that we have been able to weather the storm as well as it is reasonably possible. We did cancel physical meetings of any kind, limiting to teleconference, and also forgetting about travelling. It is our estimation for now that such measure shall be in place at least four more weeks, pending government ordinance.

No human being alive today can recall such a circumstances developing in the past, so for everybody is a new experience. Thanks God this happens now when technology reminds us of its enourmous benefits, which doubtless have spare us from otherwise stressful drama and trauma. As long as we all follow local, governmental and for God´s sake whatsup instructions (!!), we should be fine, and the world would return back to business as usual during the summer, perhaps earlier.

A next worst case scenario would be a failure of the measures allowing the virus to affect production of raw materials, as then it would become obvious that entire economy sectors in countries like Colombia would be severely affected.

This is one big reason why ensuring safe and healthy environment at the production centers, as well as in the ports, remains a top priority, like a maternity hall in a five star

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