Enhancing Disease Control on Inbound Ships: A Trial of COVID-19 Rapid Testing and Disease Control Protocols at Kaohsiung Port, March-May 2022

DOI: 10.6524/EB.202401_40(2).0001

Shu-Di Huang*, Feng-Hui Chang, Min-Nan Hung, Ching-Li Lin, Hui-Chen Lin

2024 Vol.40 NO.2

Correspondence Author: Shu-Di Huang*

  • Kaohsiung-Pingtung Regional Center, Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan


        To prevent the introduction of cross-border infectious diseases, inbound ships entering international ports must adhere to comprehensive quarantine measures. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) enhanced quarantine procedures and established detailed guidelines. However, asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers pose a significant challenge for disease detection. In January 2022, an COVID-19 outbreak at Kaohsiung Port was linked to crew members on an inbound ship. To address these challenges, the CECC authorized a trial run of COVID-19 rapid testing for merchant vessels entering Kaohsiung Port on March 1, 2022. The trial also developed three disease control protocols based on CECC principles. During the trial, six vessels with 31 affected crew members were identified. Attack rates ranged from 14% to 42%. To manage the outbreaks while minimizing disruptions to operations, four ships followed the "onboard isolation protocol," one ship implemented the "all crew exchange protocol," and one ship employed the "container-ship protocol." These handling methods can serve as references for conducting disease control measures on board. On March 15, 2022, the CECC formulated the "Principles for Handling Ships Affected by COVID-19," providing ship owners with more flexible management options and streamlining disease prevention proposal development. These comprehensive measures are crucial for safeguarding against the introduction of cross-border infectious diseases and protecting public health.