The British Port Association (BPA) has requested further support for port health authorities to prevent coronavirus spreading.
In a statement, the BPA said it had written to the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP to outline the port sector’s growing concerns.
The BPA’s Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne requested the government find additional resources so that port health authorities are fully prepared for emergency controls implemented as a result of coronavirus.
The BPA also noted that some UK ports feel they have been put in the position of having to make decisions on health matters for which they are not qualified.
“UK ports have been working closely with relevant authorities to prepare for and guard against the spread of the coronavirus,” said Ballantyne.
“Ports have highlighted though that it is acutely obvious local port health authorities, who are resourced by local authorities, are in real need of additional resources to prepare for such emergency situations.
Ballantyne notes that the risks from direct traffic from Chinese ports is “relatively low” because of the typical 30-40 day sailing time between the UK and Asia.
“However,” he continues, “ports are acting vigilantly and as the virus appears to be spreading around Europe, the sector is bracing itself for new risks and challenges.
“Current market data shows that the impact of the Coronavirus is expected to be greater than SARS given the service sector has a greater share of the Chinese economy, China accounting for a significant amount of global seaborne imports and global shipbuilding, and the majority of ship repair.
“We understand economists’ estimate the Chinese GDP growth reduction will be around 2% for the first three months of 2020, with a global GDP reduction of 0.2% for this period.
Port Technology International (PTI) has reported on the coronavirus’ impact on both the shipping sector and the global supply chain.