Nautilus members will be aware that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the recent coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
The new coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms which usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. Most people infected are likely to fully recover – just as they would from flu. However, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
There have been confirmed cases of seafarers contracting the virus which include members of the crew and passengers onboard the Diamond princess which is now quarantined off the port of Yokohama.
The WHO has advised governments to prepare for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management, contact tracing and prevention of the onward spread of infection. More information is available on the WHO website.
Shipping companies and port operators must provide workers with the latest information regarding the outbreak, follow best practice in regard to health and safety protocols and supply of personal protective equipment, put into effect procedures to identity symptomatic travelers, crew and/or workers, and set clear guidelines for workers managing suspected cases of infection. For cruise ships or passenger ferries this could mean managing a passenger who may be thought to have the coronavirus.
The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) has produced specific advice for shipping companies and seafarers which includes the following:
- 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. Avoid provision of fish and poultry in China.
- Do not consume raw eggs, milk, meat.
- For galley: Observe strict food hygiene to avoid cross contamination
- Store facial protection for all crew (5 pieces /per person).
- Provide influenza vaccination, alcohol-based hand rub and facial protection to ship inspector and other company employees who travel to China.
- If a person on board falls sick AND has been travelling to affected areas 2-12 days before embarkation, the person must stay in their cabin. Consult a Medical Doctor in the next port.
- If a sick person is on board of the ship, fill the Maritime declaration of health and notify port authority.
The following links contain further advice and guidance to seafarers and shipping companies:
The situation is evolving rapidly but pleased be assured that Nautilus is in regular contact with industry partners and will provide further guidance should there be any further developments.
Members who are concerned or are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance.