Authorities in Uruguay have authorised the creation of a humanitarian corridor for the disembarkation of the crew of the Bahamas-flagged cruise ship Greg Mortimer, which has spent two months on the high seas with crew infected by COVID-19, ITF informed.
This came as a result of the coordinated efforts of Unión de Trabajadores del Transporte (UTT) ITF affiliate in Uruguay, ITF Inspector in Chile Juan Villalon Jones, and the ITF Latin America Regional Office.
On 15 March, the Greg Mortimer left the Port of Ushuaia, Argentina, four days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
A week later, the first symptoms appeared among the passengers, but they were refused disembarkation as governments had closed borders and ports.
With authorisation from the Uruguayan government, the ship arrived on March 27 at the Port of Montevideo, where an operation was carried out to land and repatriate the passengers, however the crew was forced to remain onboard.
Of the 83-crew members onboard, 39 seafarers tested positive for COVID-19. One of them, a Philippine seafarer, died.
On April 20, after hearing about the large number of crew members infected and confined in cabins without appropriate sanitary conditions, UTT general secretary Francisco del Gaudio contacted the crew offering support.
As the crew members informed, internet connectivity was interrupted to prevent information on the severity of the situation.
Reports said that two crew members who were in charge of distributing the food had been confirmed positive for the virus, while some of the crew attempted suicide.
In response to pressure from UTT, the Uruguayan government finally announced on 8 May that the 83 crew members would be allowed to disembark, quarantined and given appropriate medical care, and then repatriated.
These weeks have been very difficult for the crew of the Greg Mortimer, however this great achievement must serve as an example to continue fighting together for the seafarers and for all transport workers who are at-risk from the Covid-19,
…Francisco del Gaudio, UTT general secretary commented.