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Worried wife of a seafarer launches campaign to ensure zero contact in ports during coronavirus crisis

More than 4,700 people have signed a petition on change.org demanding a zero contact policy in ports around the world. The campaign was started by Mukta Kumar, the wife of a seafarer and keen Splash reader.

“As the wife of a seafarer I am used to a life of either waiting for my husband to return or bidding him goodbye. But for the first time, I am worried and helpless, for he can neither come home and nor is he safe there as his ship makes its way to Italy,” Kumar wrote in introducing the petition, going on to highlight the concern many seafarers have that Covid-19 could be brought onboard ships from people ashore, whether it be from a pilot, agent, stevedore or government official.

“Just one infection could spread rapidly as they live in closed spaces. There is no doctor, ICU or ventilator on board. They are too far away at sea to get prompt attention and every country’s medical system is already overwhelmed,” Kumar wrote in calling for a for a zero contact policy for all cargo / port operations and to ensure no one from ashore enters crew accommodation areas.

Commenting on the campaign, David Hammond, founder of the charity Human Rights at Sea, told Splash today: “Families are increasingly and rightly becoming vocal about the necessary safeguarding of their spouses from Covid-19 onboard ships, including access to individual protection measures. Fortunately, today’s online platforms now allow for such concerns to be publicly raised by the ordinary person, and not dampened down, or dismissed behind corporate veils.”

In related news Gina Pereira, the wife of a Goan seafarer, has gone on hunger strike demanding Indian authorities react more quickly to get seafarers home. Her campaign has been picked up by local media and is now spreading fast across social media today.

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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.
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