The outbreak of coronavirus has been at the centre of discussions as it has already led to a number of fatalities, while the shipping industry and stakeholders have issued advises and steps to be taken so that seafarers are protected.
Specifically, the International Transport of Workers’ Federation issued advice on the virus, which originated from China in late 2019, causes pneumonia and can be life-threatening.
Therefore, ITF highlights that to be protected:
- travellers should avoid unprotected contact with live animals;
- thoroughly cook all animal products, including meat and eggs;
- all travellers should practice good hygiene to avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms.
For the time being, there haven’t been any international travel restrictions, yet Chinese authorities have taken steps locally to limit the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to declare the situation a ‘global health crisis’ – officially a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – and has issued guidance on how to be protected.
International organiser for Nautilus Danny McGowan commented that
We will continue to monitor ITF and WHO reports. Seafarers are urged to familiarise themselves with onboard and company guidance for such situations. Those companies who may not yet have procedures in place are urged to seek advice on how their employees and passengers can be protected.
In the meantime, the British Ports Association informed that will keep in touch with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) concerning the virus and discuss on preparations for ferry ports and ports with pilotage.
The Wall Street Journal reported that China is holding back some vessels from calling at the city of Wuhan, a major trade hub on the Yangtze River, due to the fast-spreading virus.
Steamship also noted that the shipping industry should first and foremost look after the health of crew members, but it can also face reporting and quarantine measures to guard against the spread of the disease, as well as issues in terms of charterparties.
Skuld Club alerted that
A high hygienic standard and raised awareness will reduce the risk for catching any virus.
The Club added that some ports may ask vessels for more information, prior to allowing its access during this outbreak.
Following the severity of the coronavirus, the shipping industry is closely monitoring the situation, advising members to be extra cautious and keep a good hygiene.