Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
We advise all Members to keep up-to-date with the advice published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both organisations are expert in this field and guide the Club.
The Club has also created a Health and Wellbeing resource page to assist Seafarers with finding advice on how to maintain positive health during these uncertain times.
Members should be aware that in addition to the precautions required in known Coronavirus areas, further restrictions and health checks may be imposed by port authorities of countries Members subsequently visit.
The 13 member P&I Clubs of the International Group have launched a new online digital tool (dashboard) to assist shipowners, charterers, operators and other parties in the maritime sector to track country and port specific advice, detailing the measures being put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access to this online dashboard is available by means of either of the following links:
In addition, we recommend that Members keep in contact with our Correspondents in the area for the most up-to-date information regarding outbreaks, including any new restrictions or procedures that may be imposed in the local vicinity.
The IMO has created a table of documents collating COVID-19 related communications issued by Member States and Associated Members.
The Marine Safety Forum (MSF) has published a COVID-19 guidance and considerations document, to assist offshore ship operators. This publication discusses topics such as crewing, tour of duty length, crew travel, social distancing and includes an FAQ section.
The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has established a COVID-19 Task Force to monitor the work of it’s members in executing their own function and that of supporting the respective flag States they represent. On 20/04/2020 the Task Force issued an open letter to industry describing actions taken by IACS to date and addressing specific suggestions received from industry partners in relation to COVID-19.
Further to Club’s publication discussing the challenges in meeting operational and regulatory requirements, the International Chamber of Shipping have published advice on Managing Ship and Seafarer Certificates during the Pandemic.
An article prepared by a Campbell Johnston Clark (CJC) addresses some of the main legal issues which are likely to arise as a result of prohibitions and obstructions arising out of the outbreak of COVID-19, in the context of shipping contracts.
A new online tool has been created by the Norwegian Centre for Maritime and Diving Medicine (NCMDM), to assist seafarers with the assessment of potential COVID-19 cases on board. It also provides advice on how patients can be treated with equipment already available on vessels.
The Workboat Association have produced a Good Practice Guide for the control of COVID-19 on board Workboats, to ensure organisations protect the health of seafarers, passengers and public, and to maximise efficiency when responding to an emergency situation related to COVID-19.
The International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) have created a hub to collate various government guidelines on Pilotage Practices in their jurisdiction.
As Members will be aware, ports are now commanding various restrictions on vessels and crew. Two resources which may be of assistance to assist with travel restrictions and/or vessel movements are the Wilhelmsen COVID-19 Global Port Restrictions Map and the World Port Sustainability Programme’s World Ports COVID-19 Information Portal.
The IMO have issued an updated Circular Letter No.4204 which includes advice to Governments and relevant national authorities on the facilitation of maritime trade during the COVID-19 pandemic .
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have published Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing Suspected Coronavirus Disease 2019. This document has been produced specifically for ships originating from, or stopping in, the United States, however, the advice has been informed by a global perspective and therefore would extend to non-U.S voyages.
On Monday 23rd March, the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) published the exceptional measures in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure a good performance of Rhine navigation. This notice is unfortunately not in English but is summarised below:
- The waterway management and lock operation will be maintained as much as possible.
- All Rhine certificates valid on March 15, 2020 will remain so for the time being. This concerns all documents based on resolution 1984-I-3, Rhine vessel inspection regulations (RVIR), Regulations for Rhine navigation personnel and Police regulations for the navigation of the Rhine (RPR). This prevents problems arising from the fact that inspection can no longer be carried out in some countries.
- Crew members may travel between their place of residence and the place of embarkation or disembarkation (accompanied by a statement if necessary, available on the CCNR website).
- The validity of certificates for the transport of dangerous goods is also extended.
In view of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, owners and managers are likely to face challenges in meeting various operational and regulatory requirements. The situation has been particularly impactful on the requirements stipulated by the Maritime Labour Convention (as applicable) and also in making arrangements for mandatory surveys and audits.
The Club has issued advice which provides information on the neccessary actions Members should take to avoid any breach or lapse of regulatory and operational requirements.
Leading maritime e-learning providers, Videotel and Seagull, have partnered to produce a free video for crew which details the measures that can be taken on board to prevent and contain the spread of Coronavirus on board.
BIMCO have produced advisory posters to help protect against the spread of Coronavirus on board ships. There are three, easy to print, black-and-white posters which are highlight specific risks in different locations, both on board and shore side.
- Shoreside of the gangway (A3 / A4)
- Shipside of the gangway (A3 / A4)
- Various locations in the accommodation (A3 / A4)
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Chamber of Shipping have produced Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers to support all types of ships which operate in international waters.
The Club wishes to draw Members attention to Circular Letter No.4204, issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO. The circular provides information and guidance, based on recommendations developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), on the precautions to be taken to minimise risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships from the Coronavirus. Member States are advised to urge all stakeholders (companies, managers, crewing agents, etc.) to promulgate information to ensure that seafarers, passengers and others on board ships are provided with accurate and relevant information on the Coronavirus outbreak and on the measures to reduce the risk of exposure if they are likely to be engaged on ships trading to and from ports in Coronavirus-affected States.
There are currently seven addendum’s to this circular offering further advice available, including:
– A joint statement issued by the IMO and the Executive Heads of the WHO in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available in the six official languages of the United Nations System: