COVID-19 response (20 March update)

21 Mar 2020 / Panama Canal, Panama

Following the diagnosis of an employee with COVID-19 on March 19, the Panama Canal activated a response team to work with local health authorities to implement their recommended procedures, including identifying the employee activity and interaction with other people, to follow the appropriate quarantine procedures established by the Ministry of Health of Panama.

According to the Neutrality Treaty, the Panama Canal is required to remain safe and open to the peaceful transit by the vessels of all nations. The Panama Canal reiterates its commitment to continue providing safe and uninterrupted transit to the international maritime community during this difficult time and is following the recommendations of the Panamanian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to safeguard the health of its employees and their customers’ personnel at all times.

The Panama Canal is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 outbreak and has adopted a series of measures to protect its personnel and prevent further spread of the virus, and continue providing a safe and uninterrupted service to its customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since January, ships arriving at the waterway have been required to report their last 10 ports of call and if they have visited countries with confirmed cases prior to their arrival. The following additional measures have also been taken:

  • Vessels required to report if and when crew changes occurred within 14 days of arrival at ports with COVID-19 cases to the Ministry of Health (MINSA).
  • Panama Canal admeasurers must contact vessels via radio before boarding to confirm all crewmembers onboard are healthy and to verify any recent crew changes.
  • Panama Canal personnel boarding the vessel are always equipped with alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel. The use of masks is optional.
  • The Panama Canal has rigorous processes to ensure that all personnel boarding vessels are healthy and have not been in contact with any positive or suspicions cases.
  • Constant communication is maintained between the Panama Canal and MINSA’s maritime health doctors.
  • MINSA has sent a communication to all shipping companies, requiring that they report any person who has any illness-related symptoms, regardless of whether or not they are related to COVID-19.

For information about operations in Panama, contact GAC Panama at [email protected]

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