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.