Advice is coming in from across the world on preparation crew ought to be taking in the wake of the rapidly spreading coronavirus from China.
Global shipping body the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is advising its membership to take steps that limit the spread of the virus. The instructions reflect advice given from the World Health Organisation (WHO), who stated that if certain measures are taken, there should be no “unnecessary restrictions of international traffic”, meaning ports and global shipping can continue to operate.
Guy Platten, the secretary general of ICS, commented: “We have recommended that all our members across the world follow the WHO measures… By implementing the measures in their entirety, we are avoiding the needless closure of any port. Shipping can continue to be the conduit for 90% of world trade, ensuring the steady supply of medicine, food and fuel for consumers worldwide. We are thankful that the WHO has avoided a knee jerk reaction, which would do nobody any favours.”
Advice provided to shipowners highlights the need for exit screening at ports in the affected areas to detect symptomatic travellers and prevent the exportation of the disease. This includes checking for signs and symptoms and keeping confirmed cases under isolation and treatment.
Kishore Rajvanshy, the veteran managing director of Fleet Management who headed the Hong Kong shipmanager during the SARS crisis of 2003, told Splash that the experience gained 17 years ago has helped his company appreciate the risks today more.
“The speed at which this strain of virus has spread is a major concern,” Rajvanshy said.
On account of the cases in China, Fleet has for now halted all shore leave and suspended all crew changes at Chinese ports with the exception of medical emergencies.
Fleet crew have been advised to reduce contact with shore personnel and follow standard precautions – including temperature check and hand and respiratory hygiene.
The North of England P&I Club, meanwhile, has urged shipping companies to develop action plans in the event of crew coming down with the virus. The insurance firm advises shipping companies to develop a contingency plan that includes infection control procedures such as: how to request medical assistance; quarantine arrangements and disposal or containment of contaminated materials separate toilet and bathing facilities for infected persons and the sanitisation of affected surfaces and areas.
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