65 Coronavirus cases were reported on board
On Monday, March 23, 2020, Admiral Osama Rabie announced the successful transit of the Italian passenger ship COSTA DIADEMA in the northbound convoy through the new Suez Canal, coming from the United Arab Emirates heading to Italy. Special measures were applied, as 65 Coronavirus cases were reported on board which required piloting the vessel remotely through pilotage team boarded on two escorting tugs in full coordination with the transit control offices and navigation monitoring stations in a first of its kind scenario in the history of the Suez Canal.
Special measures in times of COVID-19
Admiral Rabie highlighted that the applied special measures were adopted to ensure a safe transit for the vessel in light of the Suez Canal Authority commitment to Egypt’s comprehensive plan aiming to counter the Coronavirus, in full coordination with the Ministry of Health and quarantine directories according to the directives of the World Health Organization (WHO). H.E. pointed out the full readiness of the SCA to deal with the Coronavirus crisis in a systematic and scientific way through multiple scenarios including remote pilotage, utilizing advanced technology of marine navigation, and intensive training for SCA pilots on marine maneuvers.
He also noted that the authority took in consideration the humanitarian dimension when dealing with the Italian vessel by taking unprecedented measures to ensure a safe and fast transit for the vessel without keeping it waiting in the anchorage area, which guaranteed the vessel a quick arrival for its destination, ensuring that the infected cases can get their medical treatment in the fastest possible way. The applied measures also included receiving the vessel in the Canal at 4 AM, with a time interval before the northbound convoy. In addition to appointing four senior pilots to guide the vessel on two escorting tugs, one in the front and one astern, as well as radar guidance and minute by minute follow-up, in full coordination with transit control offices and navigation monitoring stations along the Canal.
H.E. has also referred to the full commitment of SCA to the directives of H.E. President Abdelfatah Elsisi in carrying out its strategic role in serving the global trade, and to meet the ambitions of all the business partners and clients by dealing with a conscious vision with all unprecedented challenges and circumstances such as bad weather and the novel Coronavirus, so that the Canal remains the real lifeline of the whole world.
Admiral Rabie also stressed the importance of taking all the precautionary and preventive measures to ensure the continuity of navigation in the Canal while guaranteeing the safety of those who get in close contact with the transiting vessels through vaccinating them against the flu and pneumonia, carrying regular medical check-ups on the pilots, surveyors, and mooring men upon embarking and disembarking the transiting vessels by a fully-equipped and qualified medical team stationed at the pilotage marinas in the three Canal cities. In addition to applying general health measures such as wearing facemasks, gloves, and full isolation suits, as well as using disinfectants.
Admiral Rabie concluded by extending his sincere appreciation to the pilots, Transit Dept. staff, as well as all SCA staff for their hard work and for performing their duty under any circumstances by mere patriotism and unprecedented efficiency.