The IMO urges flag states, port state authorities and control regimes, companies and shipmasters to collaborate, in order to ensure that passengers can be embarked and disembarked, cargo operations can take place, ships can enter and depart shipyards for repair and survey, stores and supplies can be loaded, certificates can be issued and crews can be exchanged.
IMO also reminds that the necessity to avoid unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board are included in articles I and V and section 6 of the annex to IMO’s Facilitation Convention.
Commenting on the emerging situation, Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of Synergy Group, said that seafarers are experiencing ''tremendous pressure'', but they manage to still do their jobs effectively and keep the world trade moving. Nevertheless, many are naturally concerned regarding when they can see their families due to restrictions on crew changes and quarantine periods.
Namely, because of the coronavirus, there are severe restrictions on seafarers calling at ports across the Asia Pacific region. In addition, crew manning the commercial fleet of tankers, commodity-carrying bulk carriers and container ships are not allowed to leave vessels when calling at ports in China.
Moreover, restrictions are also applied to prevent crew leaving the ship or denials of seafarers' access to a visa-on-arrival in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Australia and South Korea.
This creates various problems, as there are cases where ships are diverted to intermediate ports where crew changes are possible.
As for Synergy crew, they have been advised to reduce contact with shore personnel and follow standard precautions, such as maintaining their personal hygiene regimes as recommended by coronavirus authorities.
The new coronavirus has cost the lives of 2,703 people, while confirmed cases exceed 80,000. What is more, except from China, coronavirus cases have been reported in other countries in Asia, such as Malaysia and Japan, in Australia, Italy, Germany, France, the US and Canada among others.