The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has significantly affected the global maritime industry. This document summarizes some of the guides that have been issued and provide the reader with a source for additional information.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
The U.S. CDC has prescribed regulations requiring the reporting of death or disease occurring on vessels destined for the United States (see this link for specific requirements). These include:
- Fever of at least 100.4° F. accompanied by one or more of the following:
- Skin rash
- Difficulty breathing or confirmed pneumonia
- Persistent cough or cough with bloody sputum
- Decreased consciousness or confusion of recent onset
- New unexplained bruising or bleeding (without a previous injury)
- Persistent vomiting (other than sea sickness)
- Headache with a stiff neck;
- Fever that has persisted for more than 48 hours
- Acute gastroenteritis
- Symptoms or other indications of communicable disease.
In addition, the CDC has issued the following guidance’s:
- Guidance for Cruise Ships
- Interim Guidance for Ships on Managing Suspected Coronavirus Disease 2019
This guidance also includes measures on managing sick passengers and crew, managing people that may have been exposed to sick individuals, and measures to limit the spread of the virus.
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a Marine Safety Information Bulletin that has been updated several times regarding the Corona Virus. It can be found at this link: MSIB Corona Virus This Bulletin includes:
- Vessel Reporting Requirements
- Vessel Control Actions for non-passenger Commercial Vessels and Passenger Vessels
There is often a challenge regarding crew changes in foreign countries. The International Maritime Health Association has specific advice regarding seafarers and dock workers. These include:
- 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 and avoid provision of fish and poultry in China.
- Do no consume raw eggs, milk or meat.
- Observe strict food hygiene protocols to avoid cross contamination.
- Ensure facial protection is provided for all crew (5 pieces/ per person)
- Provide influenza vacation, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and facial protection for ship inspectors and other crew who travel to China.
- If a crew member on board falls sick and has been travelling to affected areas 2-12 before embarkation, the person must stay in his/her cabin.
- If a crew member is sick on board a ship, fill out the maritime declaration of health and notify the relevant port authority and consult a healthcare provider in the next port.
These are in addition to the normal protection recommendations such as washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, covering your mouth and notes when sneezing, avoid toughing your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.
However, despite the recommendations, some foreign governments are making it difficult or impossible for crew changes to occur in their country. Therefore, U.S. maritime labor unions have written Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asking them to help restart the crew change process. There letter can be read at this link: Labor letter to Pompeo/Esper
These men and women have been at sea for months. Being stuck on these ships is becoming a humanitarian and safety crisis. No mariners on vessels that participate in the U.S. Maritime Security Program have tested positive for the coronavirus. Yet they are not allowed to leave their ship to fly to the United States from many foreign countries.