Panama, August 19th, 2014.

“The Panamanian Merchant Marine complies with all the recommendations made ​​by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a precaution against an outbreak of the Ebola virus, which is currently affecting several countries in West Africa. These measures include strengthening the control procedures that are established within the vessels of the Panamanian Registry” – said Mr. Fernando Solórzano Acosta, Director General of the Merchant Marine of the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA).

We fully comply with all the measures encouraged by the WHO, in terms of berths and departures of vessels, seafarer’s mobility and the mobility of anyone who travels on board. This is intended to prevent any contagion as a preventive measure against this public health emergency of international significance. Panama also joins this global initiative, despite not being a country affected by the Ebola, nor close to the affected countries.

Mr. Gerardo Varela, Director General of the Directorate of Ports and Auxiliary Maritime Industries pointed that as far as it’s concerned, his directorate has sent the information provided by the Ministry of Health (MINSA) on the measures that should be taken in order to prevent this disease The information has been sent to all the domestic ports, to the chiefs of captaincies and to the boarding officers of the PMA. The directorate has also sent information about the symptoms that this disease displays.

The same information is being relayed to the General Managers and to the Operational Managers of all the concessions terminals that receive vessels in international shipping, so that they are aware of the situation and are fully documented on the measures that the Ministry of Health has announced. Similarly, their cooperation has been requested, so that these entries by sea may be prepared, in case of identifying any symptom of the disease among the members of the arriving crews.

The liaison persons between the Institution and the Unit of Maritime Health in the port areas of the Atlantic and Pacific were contacted (they are part of the boarding committee on behalf of the Ministry of Health). They have received access to the Charter Docking System. 48 hours before their arrival, this system is fed with information about the arriving vessels by the shipping agencies that represent them.

This system also shows the last ten ports from which the vessel has departed. It can show to the Authorities whether the vessels that are about to arrive have previously been in countries that have reported cases of Ebola.

Currently, new accessing passwords are being generated for members of the Maritime Health Units in ports like Vacamonte, Chiriqui Grande, Charco Azul and Almirante.

The Ebola virus produces a febrile hemorrhagic disease whose mortality rate ranges from 50% to 90%; so far, there is no vaccine or specific treatment available. This is why, it is essential to take measures to prevent and control possible outbreaks.

Ebola is spread by person-to-person transmission, by direct contact (through mucous membranes) with organs, blood, secretions or body fluids of infected persons; or by indirect contact with contaminated materials with such fluids. Airborne transmission, as it happens with other types of strains, has not been proved.