Safety alert – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information for coastal pilots and pilotage provider.

Read this information  if you are a coastal pilot and pilotage provider licensed under Marine Order 54.

What is Australia doing?

Australia has put in place extra border measures, health screening and isolation recommendations for people and ships travelling to Australia from mainland China, Iran and South Korea.

The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment is in contact with international vessels to ensure they understand the requirements and comply with pre-arrival reporting of ill travellers. Companies and masters are reminded of the legal obligation to report accurately.

The Department of Health is also providing additional communication material for travellers including passengers and crew members at international ports. This material informs travellers of the symptoms of coronavirus and encourages them to report to biosecurity officers if they are experiencing symptoms while in the port environment.

On 1 February 2020, Australia introduced isolation and additional border recommendations for persons arriving in Australia who have left or transited through mainland China. These restrictions have been expanded to include persons who have left or transited through Iran and the Republic of Korea.

The requirements for South Korea only apply to ships, or crew that left or transited through the Republic of Korea on or after 2100 AEDST 5 March 2020.

Guidance for pilotage providers

Pilotage providers are encouraged to take a precautionary approach.

AMSA suggests that when a pilotage provider accepts a booking for coastal pilotage services from a vessel, they use the screening questions below. These questions should be asked as soon as possible, and again within 24 hours of the commencement of the pilotage:

  1. Has any person on the vessel left or transited through mainland China, Iran and South Korea in the last 14 days?

  2. Has any person on the vessel become ill or shown signs of illness in the past 14 days?

Where the answer to both questions is 'no'

The pilotage should proceed with the pilot following normal procedures.

Where the answer to question 1 is ‘yes’

The pilotage may proceed using a precautionary approach and apply the risk reduction measures as follows.

  • Any pilot who has a compromised immune system or has diagnosed heart or lung conditions should not be allocated to the pilotage
  • Pre-boarding advice should be provided to the vessel master/company including details below. They should also be directed to relevant documents on the Department of Health website
  • Where possible, contact with persons on board the vessel should be limited to essential crew
  • There should be no physical contact, for example shaking hands
  • Where possible, pilots should stay one metre or more away from crew unless wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Pilots should wear appropriate PPE, including surgical masks while on board and in contact with crew. Masks should be replaced if they become damp or soiled. Additional protection may be offered by wearing eye protection, which would include sunglasses
  • Pilots should avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands
  • Hand hygiene is important and pilots should carry alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Pilots should wash their hands frequently while on board the vessel with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Pilots should especially practice good hand hygiene while using toilet facilities
  • Where required to sleep on the vessel, pilots should be accommodated in a single cabin and ensure bedding is clean or request fresh bedding
  • When eating meals on-board, standard advice should be observed including ensuring that food is well cooked. Pilots should not consume raw meat or animal products
  • Pilots should take their meals in their cabin, so that their mask can be safely removed, and proper hand hygiene should be observed
  • If a pilot becomes aware of any ill person on board, they should contact Queensland Reef VTS or alternatively their local public health authority. The pilot should make arrangements to disembark as soon as possible. The ill person should be isolated until advice is received from Health officials. The vessel master should report the illness in their pre-arrival report.

The pilotage provider should also advise vessels that their pilots will take a precautionary approach and request that the master assist in minimising contact with crew and use PPE.

Further information can be found in the Department of Health Information Sheet for Marine Pilots.

Where the answer to both questions is yes

The pilotage provider should contact Queensland Reef VTS or alternatively their local public health authority and ask the vessel master to report the illness in their pre-arrival report.

Additional information

The following links provide further information:

Australian Department of Health

Maritime Safety Queensland

Australian Border Force

The Department of Health operates an information line should you be seeking information on novel coronavirus. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week 1800 020 080.

Australian Border Force, Border Operation Centre +61 1300 368 126.

Please forward any questions about this Safety Alert Message to

Last updated: 

Wednesday 8 April 2020