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. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
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 who have vessels trading in affected regions 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.
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 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.
The Club wishes to draw Members attention to Circular Letter No.4204, issued by the International Maritime Organization. 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.