Novel Coronavirus Update

Please find the latest updates on the Novel Coronavirus below.  This page is being regularly updated. Useful links and resources relating to advice from the Australian governemnt and other stakeholders can be viewed here.

Updated at 09:08 17 February 2020

The MUA have issued at least two press releases stating that the travel bans being imposed by the federal government, that vessels cannot arrive within 14 days from departure from mainland China are not being enforced. These releases misunderstand the advice from government. Inso far as the ABF have issued directions to commercial shipping, there is no blanket ban imposed on vessels arriving within 14 days. Rather, there are changes to the reporting system which require the vessels to answer questions relating to whether they have departed mainland China in the last 14 days and the health of crew on board. Vessels may arrive within 14 days of departing from China, however crew must remain on board until the 14 day period has elapsed.

Some ports continue to have in place their own requirements including a 14 day exclusion, details about which are contianed in the useful links page.

The press release issued by the MUA over the weekend is available here.

Updated at 08:57 17 February 2020


Coronavirus update: latest news

  • MIAL earlier today participated in another teleconference with a range of government departments and industry stakeholders.
  • The teleconference was undertaken in the context of the announcement from the Australian government that current measures designed at minimising the risks of an outbreak of Coronavirus would be extended, with a reassessment to occur in 7 days.
  • In terms of the requirements for people coming to Australia, the general prohibition on persons (non-citizens and residents) who have come from mainland China within 14 days remains in place.
  • Requirements for commercial shipping remain the same, as detailed in ABF Fact sheets
  • ABF and Department of Health Fact Sheets have been updated.
  • Earlier today the MUA issued a press release regarding the potential arrival of vessel in Darwin that departed from mainland China within 14 days. In it, the MUA claims that this is an example of the Governments’ requirement not being enforced. However, the government advice does not preclude a vessel docking within 14 days of departure, only that crew must stay on board the vessel until 14 days after visiting China (provided no symptoms are evident). Some ports are, however, implementing more stringent requirements, which in effect prevent a vessel arriving within 14 days. These differing requirements are understandably causing some confusion.  Please be assured, the MUA is incorrect in their understanding as per this media release.

Reported issues from a flag state/port state control perspective include:

  • Chinese maritime authority extending the validity of seafarer certificates where their capacity to renew is effected by their inability to leave vessels;
  • crew changes involving crew coming from China continue to be problematic while the Chinese government puts in place measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus
  • there is little industry guidance on the ramifications of refusing shore leave, a requirement under the Maritime Labour Convention.
  • The ILO has declined to issue industry wide guidance but we understand that administrations can contact them directly, and some have done so in relation to extending periods on board for seafarers when a crew change cannot be undertaken.
  • Other compliance issues which are arising as a result of the impact of Chinese ship yards being effected i.e installation of scrubbers and ballast water treatment equipment.

Shipowners around the world are also finding themselves increasingly under pressure due to the downtown in the Chinese economy, linked to the outbreak. The potential that this could have flow on effects as the crisis develops should not be underestimated. 

Members are encouraged to report any other impacts they are experiencing either in Australia or overseas to the undersigned.

Click here to be linked to the latest fact sheets on MIAL's latest news page.

Kind regards,
Teresa Lloyd | CEO
Sarah Cerche | Director Workplace Relations

Updated 12 February 2020

Coronavirus update: teleconference confirms existing measures

Facts at a Glance:

·  MIAL yesterday participated in a further teleconference, including ABF, Department of Agriculture and Department of Health, convened by the Department of Infrastructure, to discuss measures implemented within Australia to minimise the risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

· The advice from Government departments has not changed.  We understand the Dept of Health will be reassessing shortly (around the end of the 14 day period).
• Information was provided by ports and other industry participants and examples were given about when specific port requirements (namely, vessels be refused entry/pilotage within 14 days of having departed from mainland China) more stringent than advised by government agencies, is impacting on shipping.
• MIAL was asked to provide specific examples of the impact the corona virus and the port requirements were having, which we are working on.

· MIAL has updated its latest news website on the coronavirus including  links to the information that ports are providing. Unfortunately there is not one single source of information that details requirements of particular ports. There also appears to be a level of confusion from ports about what federal agencies require and what specific ports elect to impose.

· As quarantine measures are implemented at various ports all around the world, access to shore leave and crew changes, at least in the short term, is becoming more problematic. We are aware that advice was received by Hong Kong Shipowners from the Hong Kong administration (as flag state) that there would be no dispensation of Maritime Labour Convention and its position that seafarers must not spend more than 11 months on board a vessel without taking leave. We understand that AMSA have offered to discuss this issue with Tokyo MOU members in light of the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus.

· The next industry teleconference will take place on 14 February and further updates will be provided as and when necessary.

Kind regards,

Teresa Lloyd | CEO
Sarah Cerche I Director Workplace Relations

February 12, 2020


updated 6 February 2020 17:3

The latest ABF Fact Sheet has been released and is available here.

 updated 6 February 2020 16:57

Port Proceedures in response to Coronavirus

MIAL understands that the following jurisdictions / ports are applying a 14 day quarantine period for vessels departing China on or after 1 Feb (in excess of Australian Border Force requirements):

  • Tasmania;
  • New South Wales;
  • Queensland (apparently after some strong lobbying by SAL they have agreed to review in 7 days.)

NT originally said they will follow MSQ but may have changed their minds after today's meeting – we are trying to verify.

We are not aware of any unilateral WA requirements by ports/state govt (note earlier advice that some resource companies operating out of WA have chosen to implement a 14 day quarantine period).

Updated 6 February 29020 13:52

Update – based on national teleconference held 1230; 6/2/2020

The advice circulated by MIAL previously based on ABF and Dept of Health advice remains unchanged – vessels are permitted to enter Australia and work cargo anytime.  If the ship or crew are within 14 days of leaving China, the crew will not be permitted to leave the vessel (except for essential vessel operations and then they must appropriate PPE – surgical masks and gloves) and those shore-side workers visiting the ship should wear appropriate PPE. 

Maritime Crew Visas are being cancelled/frozen within the 14 day window (this is what permits ABF to confine crew onboard/within the working perimeter of the ship).  The visas are reinstated after the 14 days (if everyone is well). 

It was reported by Pilbara Ports that some crew changes are now going to take place in Australia because they cannot take place in Asia.  Since the seafarers will be arriving by air, they will be subject to the same treatment as all other air passengers – which is very limiting for anyone that was in China on or after 1 February 2020.

However, Port Authority of NSW has determined that they will impose a 14 day quarantine period and will not allow pilots to board a ship that is within that window (see attached).  Pilbara ports has reported that BHP, FMG, Roy Hill and perhaps others have adopted a 14 day quarantine period for their ships.  Border Force was clear that where ports or industry parties have decided to impose a 14 day quarantine period it is in excess of what ABF requires.  As and when MIAL becomes aware of other unilateral / excess requirements being imposed we will advise members.

Also – for clarification, the requirements to wear PPE are only within the 14 day window or if someone onboard is unwell.

updated 5 February 2020 17:00

While infomation and advice continues to flow from various sources, MIAL will continue update members with advice verified by government agencies with whom we have been in constant contact this week. It is hoped that the advice below provides clarity around the practical implications of the 14 day quarentine period and the addtional infomation that will be sought from ships coming to Australia. MIAL has viewed (in draft) an ABF fact sheet which is consistant the advice MIAL has circulated. This fact sheet will be circulated as soon as it is finalised.

Addtionally, MIAL has sought clarification from relevant departments regarding the treatment of seafarers who may be exhibiting sympotoms of Novel Coronavirus. Specifically, MIAL asked:

  1. If a crew member shows symptoms/becomes unwell enroute to Australia will the ship be permitted to enter Australia and will the crew member be able to obtain medical treatment in Australia?
  2. If a crew member shows symptoms/ becomes unwell once the ship is in Australia will they be able to obtain medical treatment in Australia?

MIAL understands that the ship would be permitted to enter Australia and that Biosecurity officers would engage the local public health unit to deal with the transport and management of the patient.

updated 5 Febuary 2020 16:00

Advice and Fact Sheets 

The CFMMEU (MUA) have issued advice regarding operations on board including interactions between crew and shore based personnel. A copy of what has been diseminated is available here.

The Department of Health has now published a fact sheet on the Novel Coronavirus aimed at marine pilots. Click here to view the Fact sheet.

MSQ has provided infomation on VTS operations, which can be viewed here.


The World Health Organisation has publihed a Q&A on Coronavirus's. This can be viewed here.

updated 4 February 2020 16:25pm


Coronavirus update

Yesterday MIAL sent an update on the proposed treatment of vessels that had visited mainland China (or crew that had come from mainland China) in light of the out break of the Novel Corona Virus. This update was sent after MIAL’s participation in a teleconference involving industry interests and state and federal departments including Australian Border Force.

Subsequently we are aware that advice has been issued by an shipping agency and picked up by various media outlets that is incorrect (and inconsistent with the notification provided by MIAL based on the government advice).

MIAL has reconfirmed with government that the advice MIAL provided yesterday is correct. Ships will continue to be allowed to dock in Australia within the 14 day window (however seafarers will be required to remain on board during the 14 day quarantine period).  ABF will be requiring all ships to answer several questions specific to the Corona Virus prior to entering Australia.

Yesterday’s update along with fact sheets that have been issued are available here.

It is clear that some interpretations of the information that has been released by ABF is incorrect.  MIAL has alerted Government officials to the inaccurate information that is circulating and has urged government to issue advice and guidance specific to commercial ships arriving at Australian ports. We are concerned that advice picked up in the media doesn’t reflect the position of ABF and urgent clarification is needed.  The Government is preparing such advice which will be released as soon as possible.

Please contact Teresa Lloyd or Sarah Cerche if you require more information. Updates will be provided as and when they are available.

Kind regards
Teresa Lloyd | CEO
Sarah Cerche I Director Workplace Relations

February 4, 2020


updated 4 February 2020 13:34pm

Novel Coronavirus impacts shipping


  • A teleconference convened yesterday by Federal government agencies (Border Force, Infrastructure, Health, Agriculture) bought together maritime interests to ensure uniform and consistent treatment of ships crew and passengers in light of the Novel Coronavirus
  • In brief, the advice for ships crew is the same for anyone else – if they have joined a ship, or been ashore in mainland china and returned to the ship from 1 February they will not be permitted to come ashore in Australia within the 14 day window from last being in China.
  • If any individual member of the crew meets these requirements, the entire crew will be treated as requiring the 14 day quarantine period.
  • Marine Pilots and others that need to come into contact with ships crew within the 14 day period should wear appropriate PPE (protective mask and gloves).
  • It is understood that Port Authority of NSW issued a notice earlier today that may have seemed to make this requirement active pre 1 February.  The view of the federal Health Department is this is inconsistent and should be changed or clarified to only apply to persons that were in China on or after 1 February 2020.

A link to additional information is available here

A copy of the advice issued by ABF is available here. Note this advice is not specific to commercial shipping.

Advice issued by the International Maritime Health Association can be viewed here.

An ICS circular extracting World Health Organisation advice can be found here.

If your organisation has specific concerns or question please contact the undersigned on 03 9647 6005 and will we put you in touch with the appropriate authorities or make enquiries on your behalf.

 Kind regards,

Teresa Lloyd / CEO

Sarah Cerche / Director Workplace Relations

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