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It is very important to raise the awareness amongst crew members so that they are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread, and precautions to be taken.
IMO has provided some advice for seafarers and shipping. Many Flag States have also highlighted the importance of ensuring seafarers are properly informed.
In general, ships’ crews are recommended to:
Cooperate fully with the port health authorities and make an honest disclosure of the crew health onboard.
Practice good hygiene. Some of the good practices mentioned by the WHO are:
Wash hands frequently and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Practice respiratory hygiene (cover coughs and sneezes with flexed elbow or tissue, discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash hands).
Maintain social distancing. Keep at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.
If you have a cough and fever, use a surgical mask, avoid close contact with others and seek medical help early.
Practise food safety, such as by cooking the food items thoroughly.
When calling ports in China, South Korea, Italy and other areas with ongoing transmission:
Reduce ship-shore activities by reducing ship-shore exchanges, boarding inspections, internal audits, external audits, maintenance and other activities.
Unnecessary boarding visits should be prohibited.
Strengthen gangway or ladder control by implementing stricter ISPS procedures. It would include enhancing the stairway control, checking the credentials of all personnel boarding the ship, and checking their temperatures and logging it. If any shore personnel are suspected to have flu like symptoms access should be denied.
Restrict entry of agents, tally, foremen, suppliers and other foreign personnel into the crew living area to reduce contact between ship and shore personnel.
Strengthen self-prevention, e.g. by wearing surgical masks, and not interacting with others onboard or ashore if there are flu like symptoms.
Maintain good hygiene in accommodation areas, e.g. by frequently cleaning desks, door handles, switches, telephones, etc.
Restrict shore leaves in ports.
There may be port specific requirements which ships may have to comply with before receiving pilots, agents etc. for which, Masters must contact the local agent well in advance and seek the information.
After departure from port, report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care onboard.
Onboard mitigating measures
In the event of a suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 onboard a ship, seek immediate expert medical opinion. The master should report the event as soon as possible to the next port of call, to allow the competent authority at the port to arrange, depending on the situation, medical evacuation or special arrangements for disembarkation and hospitalization of the patient and laboratory diagnosis.
In addition, consider implementing the following measures onboard the ship as soon as a crew member or passenger shows symptoms compatible with the disease:
Keep the patient’s cabin doors closed, if not placed in a medical isolation room on board.
To contain respiratory secretions, a surgical mask should be provided to the patient and worn as much as possible.
Provide information about the risk of disease transmission to persons who will take care of the patient or enter the isolation area and limit the number of such persons.
Maintain a log listing everybody who enter the cabin.
Anyone who enters the cabin to provide care to the person in isolation or to clean the cabin must wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). A surgical mask is particularly important, as is the use of disposable gloves.
Gloves, masks and other waste generated during health care of the patient should be placed in a waste bin with lid in the patient’s room before disposal as ‘infection waste’.
Limit the movement and transport of the patient from the cabin for essential purposes only. If transport is necessary, the patient should wear a surgical mask and any surfaces touched by the patient should be cleaned and disinfected.
Start case investigation immediately. Wear appropriate PPE when interviewing the patient and keep a distance of at least 1 meter.
Identify the patient’s close contacts and ask them to do passive self-monitoring of any symptoms.
All measures implemented onboard should be recorded on the Ship Sanitation Control Certificate (IHR Annex 3).
Ship operators in the process of establishing onboard procedures for taking care of a suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 onboard may also want to consult WHO’s guidance on home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus infection for more detailed advice. In order to better understand how to detect, prevent, respond to and control the new coronavirus, we also recommend enrolling in WHO’s open online training course on COVID-19.
Ships may face challenges in meeting applicable statutory requirements under various international conventions, such as inability to renew ship’s certificates; unable to obtain dry docking services; and unable to timely repatriate seafarers. To contain the spread of the virus, Classification Societies are also limiting their activities at the moment and may not be able to respond to survey requests. In all such cases, ship operators are advised to approach the Flag State and/or Classification Society of the ship. Certain Flag States such as Singapore and Norway have already clarified that extensions will be granted in certain cases.
We advise all Members and clients to pay special attention to and follow national and international Governments’ travel advice when planning crew changes as countries may expand their entry restrictions on short notice. IATA’s dedicated webpage also provides useful information. Prior to doing a crew change, it is advisable to check the travel history of the on-signer.
ITF Advice for crew members
Encourage all onboard to practice hand and respiratory hygiene especially when coughing or sneezing.
Crew should use hand sanitiser/wash hands following contact with any passenger or other crew.
If on a layover in a country with a known coronavirus outbreak, crew are advised to remain in hotel accommodation as much as possible and practice hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices.
The following advice from the International Maritime Health Association is more specific to the maritime industry, seafarers and dock workers:
Do not restrict embarkation/disembarkation of seafarers in non-affected ports
Do not restrict necessary ship visits by port agents, chaplains, service personnel and others.
Do not visit food markets in China and avoid provision of fish and poultry in China.
Do not consume raw eggs, milk, meat.
Observe strict food hygiene to avoid cross contamination
Ensure facial protection is provided for all crew (5 pieces /per person)
Provide influenza vaccination, alcohol-based hand sanitiser and facial protection for ship inspectors and other crew who travel to China.
If a crew member on board falls sick and has been travelling to affected areas 2-12 days before embarkation, the person must stay in his/her cabin.
If a crew member is sick on board a ship, fill out the maritime declaration of health and notify the relevant port authority and consult a healthcare providers in the next port.
In addition, the USCG issued more advise concerning the Coronavirus outbreak, as such:
Vessel representatives are required to report sick or deceased crew/passengers within the last 15 days to the CDC under 42 CFR 71.21.
The Coast Guard will continue to review all “Notice of Arrivals” in accordance with current policies and will communicate any concerns stemming from sick or deceased crew or passengers to their Coast Guard chain of command and the CDC quarantine station who will coordinate with local health authorities.
Vessel masters shall inform Coast Guard boarding teams of any ill crew members on board their vessel prior to the Coast Guard embarking and Boarding Teams should verify vessel illnesses with CDC if concerns arise.
Local industry stakeholders, in partnership with their Coast Guard Captain of the Port, should review and be familiar with section 5310 Procedures for Vessel Quarantine and Isolation, and Section 5320 – Procedures for Security Segregation of Vessels in their Area Maritime Security Plan.
Local industry stakeholders, in partnership with their Coast Guard Captain of the Port, should review and be familiar with their Marine Transportation System Recovery Plan.
Be safe Sailors ⚓
Be aware with Marinesthing