Indian seafarers – mainly crew members of luxury cruise liners – are finally heading home after being stranded for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around 2,160 crew have already returned home while another 10,000 are scheduled to land at the Mumbai port trust (MbPT).
Chairman of MbPT Sanjay Bhatia told TOI, “Around 2,000 (crew members) have come and another 10,000 are expected by June 28. Some of them were crew members of cargo vessels too.”
“Boats ferry doctors from the Mumbai port trust to the passenger cruise vessels at the anchorage for the health checkup of those returning home. The vessel is allowed to berth only if all the members test negative,” said Bhatia.
So far, there has not been a single case where a cruise vessel was not allowed to berth, the chairman said.
Meanwhile, at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) – the biggest container cargo terminal in the country – 160 crew members have signed off and another 143 have signed on.
JNPT does health check of sailors signing off after the vessel berths. A team of doctors boards the vessel and does the tests as per standard operating procedures.
The sailors have to undergo 14-day quarantine and are required to take Covid tests before they are sent home. The port, unlike MbPT, does not have inner anchorage so the health test is done after the vessels berth, port authorities said.
Those signing on are only allowed to board if they test negative for Covid-19. So far, all the seafarers who signed off and signed on have tested negative, the port said.