WP04/ 21

Suva, Fiji, 28 April 2021- Customs officers must ensure they are well protected as they carry out their duties at the border, Oceania Customs Organisation Head of Secretariat, Richard Brennan says.

“So far, we have done well as a region in containing the virus. We have some countries that don’t have the virus at all, and some have been able to contain the virus at their borders,” Mr. Brennan says.

“But we must continue to be vigilant, this is an unseen enemy that lurks in the atmosphere. But our protection is as simple as following basic hygiene guidelines such as washing hands, using hand santizers, wearing masks and protective equipment.”

Mr Brennan added that even if Pacific nations have recorded low or no cases of the virus, Customs officers should not let their guards down.

“A simple slip-up by failing to adhere to the protective measures is very costly if one contracts the virus. While the virus threatens human life, the domino effect on an economy can result in lockdowns, closure of businesses, schools and loss in revenue and income for governments, businesses and people.”

OCO has a guideline on COVID-19 for members to help them in carrying out their work at the borders.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated the COVID-19 virus can live on external surfaces for up to three days, we are advising customs officers that if a cargo has been sprayed and sanitized spray prior to its departure or on arrival or both, the need to have it quarantine is reduced but staff should wear personal protective equipment when dealing with cargoes during this time,” Mr Brennan said.

“While we are worried about the spread of the virus, we also urge our members to continue to our fight against transnational crimes.”

For more information or for any queries, please contact the Secretariat or email: mediaoco@ocosec.org

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