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Bangladesh becomes first nation to bar shore passes over monkeypox fears

Bangladesh has become the first confirmed country to enact seafarer restrictions in the wake of the global spread of monkeypox, with other Asian nations looking at tightening rules too.

Chittagong Port has barred shore passes for all crew unless in the case of an emergency, while signed-off crew will have to undergo health checks.

Other nearby nations, including China and India, have been discussing tightening entry measures as the world braces for the spread of the disease.

Amid the rising number of monkeypox cases around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that it does not believe that the recent outbreak outside Africa will lead to a new pandemic.

The global health body also said that it remains unclear if infected people who are not displaying symptoms can transmit the disease.

More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox – a usually mild illness that spreads through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions – have so far been recorded in May in around 23 countries, mostly in Europe.

Seafarers hearing of port authorities denying shore leave for another virus will be shocked as shipping is still suffering from what Intercargo chairman Dimitrios Fafalios has described as long covid.

Shipping is facing its own version of long covid, said Fafalios, who heads up the international dry bulk shipping association.

“Seafarers worldwide continue to face major issues with crew change, port entry and changing vaccination requirements,” Fafalios said in a release, describing the lengthy return to post-covid travel norms for crews around the world.

“New waves of infection continue to affect ports, and once again we are seeing local authorities creating their own interpretation of the rules,” Fafalios said. “This is happening today at ports around the world, and governments and administrations seem not to have learned the lessons of the past two years, as they move to a post-covid agenda.”

The issue of available staff at sea was front and centre at the latest meeting last month of the seafarers committee at the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA).

“Undoubtedly, the epidemic will be accelerating the loss of seafarers, especially young seafarers,” the official ASA communiqué from the meeting stated.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

Comments

  1. IS IT THE TIME FOR “BLANK SAILING” WHICH WILL PASS THE HEADACHE TO THE PORTS THAT BAR AGAIN SHORE PASSES OVER NEW PANDEMICS?
    Shipping becomes again a field of Port Authorities exercising Doctrines over unilateral interpretations of the WHO and IMO recommendations.
    Before the Shipping loses its Seafarers who are forever victimized for business as usual, port skipping and port black listing should be incorporated in a CP clause for the good reason of a Port not providing Essential Services to the calling ships for their Seaworthiness, Safety, Crew Hygiene and Medical help, Spares and Supply Provisions, Survey, inspection and Maintenance including urgent Repair and Docking requirements.
    It is time for the Charterers to undertake their Responsibilities by nominating Unsafe and Hostile Ports?
    Ocean lines blank sails will reduce shipping capacity and will push the Freights up for the Cargo Receivers and Charterers who show “Apathy as Usual”.

  2. “300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox – a usually mild illness” and yes this is enough to isolate seafarers again. When will authorities imply the same regulations for airline crew? saying “sorry you are not allowed to leave the plane” Airline crew is more often, and in close contact with “other people” than vessel crew so this would make much more sense. Same for people who work in a supermarkets, “sorry you have to stay at your workplace, too dangerous to let you out”……

    Check the seafarers happiness index and see the results.

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