(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has issued updated health guidance dated 7 June 2021 for the global shipping industry to ensure ship operators and crew can safely deal with seafarers struggling with medical conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
This Guidance has been produced by ICS to help shipping companies and seafarers follow health advice provided by United Nations agencies and others in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), under the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR).
The Guidance is for use on all types of ship and tries to take into account the needs of both cargo and passenger ships. It is recognised that cargo ships are unlikely to have a fully trained doctor or nurse on board and that medical treatment on cargo ships will be provided by a crew member with training to Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) medical requirements.
A ‘seafarer’ in the context of this Guidance means any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship.
COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has since spread to almost all countries of the world. Around 170 million cases have been reported at the time of going to print, including around 3.5 million deaths. In most cases, COVID-19 is a mild, self-limiting disease. In some cases, it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia and death. The time from the initial contact with the virus until symptoms develop is usually 5 to 7 days although it can be up to 14 days. In more severe cases, symptoms usually worsen gradually after they first appear.
A number of vaccines are now authorised in different countries around the world and more are gaining official authorisation on a regular basis. ICS and others are working with authorities at a national, regional and international level to prioritise rapid access to vaccinations for seafarers as key workers in all countries.
Drug therapies have continued to develop and many are now found to be beneficial in severe disease requiring hospital treatment. However, the focus of public health authorities worldwide remains the use of protective measures to contain the virus, in order to limit and slow down widespread transmission.
This significant public health challenge requires close co-operation between flag and port States, labour supply countries, shipping companies, industry associations and other maritime service providers, to protect the health of seafarers (and passengers where applicable) as well as the general public.
Because a ship is a closed environment, after being at sea for 14 days or more, and if no seafarers show signs of illness, a ship may be considered as free from COVID-19 and therefore safe. Any crew change or visit from shore-based personnel, including a pilot, may introduce the virus on board despite best practice quarantine and testing. Seafarers should therefore remain vigilant for the symptoms of COVID-19 in themselves and others and report such symptoms immediately to the person responsible for medical care on board.
Click on the below image to download the Covid-19 guidance Ver.4:
For more articles and Guidance papers on COVID-19 pandemic, click HERE