Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a strain of the virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.
Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. 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 WHO’s Situation Dashboard provides live data on infected areas which may be beneficial to Members in assessing the potential risks to health for planned voyages.
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.
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 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)
Following UK Government advice, the London branch of the Club is temporarily closed with all London staff working remotely. Our focus will remain towards offering the highest service levels to our Membership with their claims, operational liabilities and providing their insurance solutions. The Club’s main switch board will continue to receive calls, and these will be diverted as appropriate to staff working remotely. All details can be found on our Contacts page.
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 guidance issued by the IMO on Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships.
The IMO and the Executive Heads of the WHO have issued a joint statement in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which is available in the six official languages of the United Nations System:
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.
The International Maritime Health Association has released circular on Reducing the Risk of Infection from 2019 new Coronavirus.
The Club recommends that Members refer to this guidance if concerned about the risk of infection, as it includes specific advice for shipping crew and companies.