In our ongoing efforts to keep our Clients, Local Manning Offices and our Seafarers updated with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic, we have gathered the below information from leading organizations and respectable Media.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, there are major developments constantly in terms of intelligence gathered for the SARS-CoV-2 Virus and its associated COVID-19 Disease, its transmissibility, its fatality and of course information relevant to Travel Restrictions and Port Restrictions affecting the movement of all traveling passengers and of course Crew Changes.

FACTS (UPDATED):

On March 11 the Director General of the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 disease as a controllable Pandemic. Since then, many countries around the world have taken several measures to contain the outbreak on their territory and have imposed various degrees of restrictions in the movement of their nationals, as well as, the entry of foreign nationals to their territory. Philippines, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Egypt, Romania and other seafaring countries have either closed their borders or have made the travel extremely difficult, due to enhanced quarantine measures taken by their respective government. The majority of countries and those acting as traditional crew change hubs, such as Singapore, UAE, European Countries, USA etc., have issued restriction measures for the movement of vessel’s crew.

In China, where the virus originates from, the outbreak has been contained and everyday life seems to be normalized to a large extend. Unfortunately, the outbreak in the biggest part of the world is on the rise with billions of people being currently under lockdown. On April 4, the total worldwide confirmed cases recorded in the WHO Situation Report No.75 passed the one million barrier and on April 12, worldwide fatalities recorded in the WHO Situation Report No.83 passed the 100,000 barrier. On 17 April, at the time that this article was getting prepared, the confirmed cases worldwide exceeded two million and fatalities passed the 135,000, as reported by the WHO.

It took about 70 days to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases, another 12 days for the 200,000 figure, another 16 days for the first million and just another 13 days to reach two million. Similarly, it took more than 80 days for the fatalities count to reach 10,000 on May 21, it took just another 5 days to pass the 20,000 and another 17 days to pass the 100,000.

Currently, leading countries with more than 100,000 confirmed cases are the USA (578,268), Spain (172,541), Italy (162,488), Germany (127,584) and France (102,533). Of course one has to take in mind that the number of confirmed cases reported by countries reflects national laboratory testing capacity and strategy, thus the interpretation of the number of cases reported should take this into account. Similarly, far ahead leading countries with more than 10,000 confirmed fatalities are the USA (23,476), Spain (18,056), Italy (21,069), France (15,708) and the United Kingdom (12,107).

  1. The COVID-19 Disease Pandemic originated from Wuhan City, China at the end of 2019 and is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.
  2. The confirmed cases are about 2,000,000 globally with more than 125,000 fatalities recorded, spreading now to 210 countries and territories.
  3. WHO has declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and has characterized it a Pandemic.
  4. There have been people diagnosed worldwide with no apparent traceability related to contact with other diagnosed cases.
  5. Symptoms may not be visible at the early stages of the infection but the virus is still being transmitted.
  6. Incubation period of the virus range from 2 to 14 days but most commonly is 5 days.
  7. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.
  8. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the SARS-CoV-2 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.
  9. People of all ages can be infected with COVID-19, however, older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill comparing to younger people and kids.
  10. The WHO Risk Assessment Emergency Level is currently as follows: GLOBALLY – VERY HIGH

SIGNS OF INFECTION (UPDATED):

  • Fever
  • Dry Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of Breath and Breathing difficulties
  • Aches and Pain
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

The frequency of symptoms is in the order mentioned above and they are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and never feel unwell.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES (UPDATED):

Wash your hands frequently. 

  1. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

    • Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing. 

  1. Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

    • Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

    • Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene. 

  1. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

    • Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. 

  1. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

    • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider. 

  1. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

    • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

In addition to the above, for measures of protection and basic hygiene procedures on the workplace (it may be extended on ships’ offices as well), WHO has issued the Guidelines for Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19, dated 19.03.2020. This document gives advice on:

  1. Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
  2. How to manage COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings & events
  3. Things to consider when you and your employees travel
  4. Getting your workplace ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community

TRAINING VIDEOS AND POSTERS (UPDATED):

TRAINING VIDEOS

  1. Ways to Protect Yourself. Click HERE.
  2. What can people do to protect themselves and others from getting the new coronavirus? Click HERE
  3. Why is it recommended to avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough? Click here: HERE.
  4. How is the new coronavirus affecting people who get it? Click HERE.
  5. When and how to wear medical masks to protect against the new coronavirus? Click HERE.

POSTERS

Be ready for Coronavirus:

Protect yourself and others from getting sick:

How to cope with stress during 2019-nCoV outbreak:

IMPACT IN SHIPPING (UPDATED):

Countries and Ports around the world have implemented various measures and restrictions for Seafarers and Vessels. Philippines, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Egypt, Romania and other seafaring countries have either closed their borders or have made the travel extremely difficult, due to enhanced quarantine measures taken by their respective government. The majority of countries and those acting as traditional crew change hubs, such as Singapore, UAE, European Countries, USA etc., have issued restriction measures for the movement of vessel’s crew.

Due to the volatility caused by COVID-19, ship operators must always consult local agents in each port for the restrictions imposed, however, as an easy guide for Port/Country restrictions we recommend the live information provided by WILHELMSEN, the International Group of P&I Clubs (IGP&I), S5 AGENCY WORLD, UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), BIMCO, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)  and the ITF.

Since the middle of March, the international maritime community has been making steps to characterize seafarers as key workers and therefore try to minimize their movement restrictions, imposed by the majority of countries due to COVID-19 Pandemic.

Towards this aim, IMO Secretary-General made a statement on March 19, ICS jointly with ITF issued an open letter on the same day and ECSA jointly with ETF have issued a similar open letter on March 18, all essentially stretching the need for free movement of seafarers and their importance to be seen as key workers assisting in the worldwide supply of goods.

These efforts have since been intensified. On March 27, IMO has issued Circular Letter No.4204/Add.6, consisting of a list of recommendations to be used by administrations for the facilitation of maritime trade. This list was compiled with the assistance of various important maritime stakeholders such as ICS, BIMCO, IACS, IAPH, IMEC, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, ITF, P&I Clubs and others. The topics of the list are timely access of vessels to berths/ports, port operations facilitation, health protection and more distinctly, the facilitation of crew changes in ports. Likewise, on April 4, ILO issued a comprehensive information note for maritime labour issues in association with COVID-19 and on April 8, the European Commission has issued a communication letter offering guidance on the health protection, repatriation and travel arrangements for seafarers and other persons onboard ships. Further, on April 15, IATA jointly with ICS issued a press release calling on governments to take urgent measures to facilitate crew change flights for seafarers.

The International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), as part of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNG) and ITF have issued a statement for the grace period for Employment Contracts that go beyond IBF/MLC maximum period, originally agreed until April 16, to be further extended until May 15, always mutually agreed with seafarers. In the same statement they also provide clarifications on certain ambiguous issues such as, how wages shall be handled for an off-signer that cannot be repatriated while replacement crew is onboard, etc.

IMEC is also actively involved with maritime stakeholders like ICS and ITF towards preparing a course of action to be followed, when the travel restrictions for seafarers are lifted. Similarly, they are in talks with IATA and ICAO for in order to evaluate the expected movement of seafarers when ILO, IMO, WHO and local governments agree to alleviate restrictions. Towards this effort IMEC will be collecting information on seafarers’ number and respective crew nationalities, whose contracts expire by the end of the grace period, on May 15.

Another major issue that operators are facing is that of the expiring Certificates and other documentation of the onboard Crew, as well as, the approach of the Port State Controls towards this matter. Regarding this matter, IMO has issued Circular Letter No.4204/Add.5, dated 17/03/2020, which addresses this issue and encourages Port State Controls and issuing Administrations to act in a more relaxed way towards such matters. It also requests from Administrations to communicate to IMO the resolutions that they will adopt so to be officially circulated by IMO.

Among others, the List of Administrations that have followed IMO guideline and have communicated their resolutions to IMO, includes Greece, Philippines, Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Egypt, India, Myanmar, Spain. All IMO Circulars incorporating resolutions received from Administrations can be found HERE.

Similarly the Guidelines of the PSC Regimes that have responded to IMO and their respective Guidelines, which among others are the USCG, Paris MOU, Tokyo MOU, can be found in IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.8.

All IMO Circulars incorporating resolutions received from Administrations can be found HERE.

Furthermore, international organisations have issued several guidelines regarding operational procedures to be followed by operators during the COVID-19 Pandemic. IMO issued Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3, dated 02/03/2020, which essentially incorporates the WHO Guidance on operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks on board ships, dated 24/02/2020. Subsequently, on March 25, WHO issued an updated version of the Guidance on operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks on board ships. This guidance includes, inter alia, pre-boarding screenings, isolation cabins, outbreak management plans, contact tracing, quarantine, daily cleaning and disinfection. If a suspect case is identified, the ship should start an outbreak management plan on board, even before lab results confirm an infection. The WHO guidance should be used along with the WHO Handbook for management of public health events on board ships, dated 2016.

In addition to the above, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has teamed up with the WHO, the IMO, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) and has produced the Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers. Among many measures suggested, the Guidance contains advice on managing Port Entry Restrictions, offers practical Protective Measures against COVID-19 for Seafarers, including an Outbreak Management Plan. The guidance document also provides information around important topics including Port Entry Restrictions, Pre-boarding Screening, Education and what to do in Suspected Cases of Infection. There is also advice on Hygiene Measures for Seafarers on Ships, Managing High Risk Exposure, Case Handling, Isolation and Cleaning, Disinfection and Waste Management. This ICS Guidance has been incorporated also in the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4, dated 05/03/2020.

Similarly, on April 3, INTERTANKO has issued the Outbreak Management Plan: Covid-19 Guide. This document outlines the plans and procedures to be put in place to prepare a ship for shore personnel to come on board and to protect seafarers from the dangers posed by the new Covid-19. This includes potential exposure from shore personnel and the actions to take in the event of a suspected case on board. This guidance should be used in conjunction with the ICS Guidance mentioned above.

On April 6, OCIMF issued guidance on Best Practice Precautions for Carrying out the Pre-transfer Conference during the COVID 19 Pandemic, along with ship-shore safety checklist and the bunkering safety checklists.

Lastly, on April 14, ICS issued the Guidance on Managing Ship and Seafarer Certificates during the Pandemic, which provides information for shipowners and operators on managing ship and seafarer certificates during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It covers the considerations and addresses the unique compliance issues related to ship and seafarer certificates, as required by the certification provisions of IMO, ILO and other organisations.

All IMO Circulars related to COVID-19, can be found HERE.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND AIRPORT OPERATIONS (UPDATED):

As we have advised, the global situation remains very tentative and as such restrictions imposed continue to change or be prolonged constantly.

Please follow UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) for a comprehensive guidance.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) USEFUL LINKS (UPDATED):

USEFUL LINKS FROM ADMINISTRATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS (UPDATED):

USEFUL LINKS FROM ADMINISTRATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS (UPDATED):

Georgian Government:

Georgian Ministry of Transport (MTA):

Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers:

Russian Government:

Romanian Government:

Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA):

Philippines Marine Industry Authority (MARINA):

Philippines Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE):

Philippines Department of Health (DOH):

Latvian Cabinet of Ministers:

Indian Government:

Indian Bureau of Immigration:

Indian Ministry of Health:

Australian Maritime Industry Ltd (MIAL):

Australian Department of Home Affairs:

Hellenic National Organization of Public Health (EODY):

Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs Health:

Singapore Immigration & Checkpoint Authority (ICA):

Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA):

China State Council:

International Transport Workers Federation (ITF):

Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO):

Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF):

International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO):

International Chamber of Shipping (ICS): 

International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC): 

USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) :

International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) :

International Air Transport Association (IATA) :

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) :

We continuously monitor the situation and we shall keep our Clients, Local Manning Offices and our Seafarers advised on any developments.