CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) OUTBREAK ADVICE #7
In our ongoing efforts to keep our Clients, Local Manning Offices and our Seafarers updated with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak, we have gathered the below information from the World Health Organization (WHO), leading P&I Clubs (members of the IG Group), as well as, other organizations and respectable Media.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, there are major developments constantly in terms of intelligence gathered for this Novel Virus, 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.
On March 11 the Director General of the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a controllable Pandemic. Since then, many countries around the world have taken several measures to contain the outbreak on their territory. Seafarer countries, like Philippines, Ukraine and Egypt have either closed their borders or have made the travel extremely difficult, due to enhanced quarantine measures taken by their government. Other countries like Singapore, UAE, Turkey, European Countries, USA etc., have issued restriction measures for the movement of crew of vessels that have arrived from high risk countries or visitors arriving from them. The List of High Risk countries contain, but not limited to, Italy, Iran, Korea, Philippines, Spain and United Kingdom, with the list ever getting bigger. Similarly, measures have been taken for the
In China the outbreak seems to have been contained recently. Unfortunately, the outbreak in the rest of the world is on the rise. On March 16, the total confirmed cases and fatalities recorded outside of China surpassed those reported inside China for the first time. On 19 March, the number of confirmed cases worldwide has exceeded 200000. It took over three months to reach the first 100000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 100000. Far ahead leading countries, except China, which show an increasing daily rate of confirmed cases, are currently Italy (35713), Spain (13716), Germany (8198), France (7652) and the USA (7087). For S. Korea (8413), although high in the list, the reported daily rate has been stabilized to less than 100 daily confirmed cases and Iran (17361), also very high in the list, is reporting a high but steady daily rate.
- The COVID-19 Disease Outbreak originated from Wuhan City, China at the end of 2019 and is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.
- The confirmed cases is about 210000 globally with more than 128000 outside of China spreading now to 150 countries and territories..
- WHO has declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and has characterized it a Pandemic.
- There have been people diagnosed worldwide with no apparent traceability related to contact with other diagnosed cases.
- Symptoms may not be visible at the early stages of the infection but the virus is still being transmitted.
- Incubation period of the virus range from 2 to 14 days but most commonly is 5 days.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The WHO Risk Assessment Emergency Level is currently as follows:
- GLOBALLY – Very High
SIGNS OF INFECTION:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Shortness of Breath And Breathing Difficulties
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Above mentioned symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and never feel unwell.
- Wash your hands frequently. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 produced the Guidelines for Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19, dated 03.03.2020. This document gives advice on:
- Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace
- How to manage COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings & events
- Things to consider when you and your employees travel
- Getting your workplace ready in case COVID-19 arrives in your community
Please click HERE for the WHO Guidelines for Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19.
TRAINING VIDEOS AND POSTERS:
- Ways to Protect Yourself. Click HERE.
- What can people do to protect themselves and others from getting the new coronavirus? Click HERE
- Why is it recommended to avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough? Click here: HERE.
- How is the new coronavirus affecting people who get it? Click HERE.
- When and how to wear medical masks to protect against the new coronavirus? Click HERE.
- Be ready for Coronavirus:
- Protect yourself and others from getting sick:
- How to cope with stress during 2019-nCoV outbreak:
- Practice food safety:
- Stay healthy while travelling:
IMPACT IN SHIPPING (UPDATED):
Countries and Ports around the world have implemented various measures and restrictions for Seafarers and Vessels. Seafaring countries, like Philippines, Ukraine and Egypt have either closed their borders or have made the travel extremely difficult, due to enhanced quarantine measures taken by their government. Other countries like Singapore, UAE, Turkey, European Countries, USA etc., have taken various restriction measures towards the movement of crew onboard vessels that have visited high risk countries and/or crew arriving from them to join the vessels. The List of High Risk countries contain, but not limited to, Italy, Iran, Korea, Philippines, Spain and United Kingdom, with the list ever getting wider. Due to the ever increasing restrictions in the movement of Seafarers, various shipping organizations have issued open Letters where they stretch the importance of measures to be taken, so that those restrictions do not affect the repatriation and joining of the vessels’ crew or at least minimize this effect. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have jointly issued an open LETTER to this point. Likewise, the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) issued a similar LETTER to this extend. Last but not least, the Secretary General of the IMO has issued a STATEMENT to stretch the vital need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers' welfare; “I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers”, he said.
In view of the delays and restrictions of seafarers' repatriation, the International Maritime Employers' Council (IMEC) advised that several Flag Administrations have considered granting permission for extensions of Crew Contracts which are near the ILO MLC limit, always subject to seafarer's consent. Similarly, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has agreed to exercise some flexibility and join most flag states, in allowing extensions that go beyond both the CBA and the MLC maximum lengths for at least the next 30 days, up to 16.04.2020. Please see HERE the ITF Circular.
On March 11, Philippines President have put the Manila Metropolitan Area in enhanced quarantine, limiting the movement of persons and operations of public institutions and commercial businesses. The following days this quarantine was broaden to cover almost the whole country, as well as, the exit from and entry to the country. Although the category of seafarers was excluded from the ban, it is extremely difficult to be arranged. The latest restrictions imposed in Philippines can be found HERE and HERE. Regarding the issue
Similarly, on March 16, the Prime Minister of Ukraine made a public address where he placed the country under quarantine and closed the borders to foreigners. Moreover, a travel ban was issued for Ukrainian nationals, however not affecting the Crew of vessels, as it is clarified on the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Nonetheless, in this case also the movement of the Ukrainian seafarers may not be banned but is extremely difficult to take place given restrictions from other countries, as well as, airlines operating to Ukraine.
For a comprehensive list of Shipping Restrictions in Ports and Countries, we have found that the most useful links are the following:
- NORTH P&I: https://www.nepia.com/industry-news/coronavirus-outbreak-impact-on-shipping/
- WILHEMSEN: https://www.wilhelmsen.com/ships-agency/campaigns/coronavirus/coronavirus-map/
Furthermore, IMO has 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 on board ships, dated 24/02/2020. This guidance includes 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.
- Please click HERE for the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.4
- Please click HERE for the IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.3
- Please click HERE for the WHO Guidance dated 24/02/2020
- Please click HERE for the WHO Handbook dated 2016
- Please click HERE for the ICS Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers
Another issue that seafarers and operators are facing is that of the expiring Certificates and other documentation. 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 be in fact more relaxed towards such matters. The Philippines Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) have also issued Advisory 2020-16, dated 17.03.2020, which gives guidelines for the Filipino seafarers’ certificates, identification cards, and record books. Similarly, Romanian Ministry of Transport have issued also a LETTER to this extend.
For more IMO Circulars regarding COVID-19, please see below:
- For IMO Circular Letter No.4204 please click HERE.
- For IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.1 please click HERE.
- For IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.2 please click HERE.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS BY COUNTRY (UPDATED):
WHO still has not recommended an official travel ban so far. However, many countries have issued travel bans unilaterally.
For a comprehensive guide of Travel Restrictions from the official IATA website, please click on the HERE.
MEASURES TAKEN BY AIRLINE COMPANIES:
Most Airline Companies globally have taken various initiatives and have either suspended or disrupt their flights, in and out of China, as well as, to other Countries such as Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan etc.
For a comprehensive guide of Arline Measures, please click HERE.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) USEFUL LINKS:
For further advise and UPDATED useful information relevant to the outbreak please visit the links below:
- WHO Live Dashboard: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd
- WHO Handbook for management of public health events on board ships: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/205796/9789241549462_eng.pdf;jsessionid=A6E97959F45D42641010D55F861A86AD?sequence=1
- WHO Guidance on operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases on board ships: https://www.who.int/publications-detail/operational-considerations-for-managing-covid-19-cases-outbreak-on-board-ships
- WHO Guidelines for Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=359a81e7_6
- Situation reports: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
- Advice for the public: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- Technical Advise: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance
- International travel and health: https://www.who.int/ith/2019-nCoV_advice_for_international_traffic/en/
- Questions and Answers (Q&A): https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Myth Basters: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
P&I USEFUL LINKS:
- JAPAN P&I:
- WEST P&I:
- LONDON P&I:
- UK P&I:
- NORTH P&I:
- AMERICAN P&I:
- SKULD P&I:
- SSM P&I:
- STANDARD P&I:
- BRITANNIA P&I:
- GARD P&I:
- SHIPOWNERS CLUB:
- SWEDISH CLUB:
USEFUL LINKS (UPDATED):
- USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA):
- Philippines Marine Industry Auhority:
- Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL):
- Greek National Organization of Public Health (EODY):
- Singapore Immigration & Checkpoint Authority (ICA):
- Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA):
- China State Council:
- UK Department of Health and Social Care:
- International Transport Workers Federation (ITF):
- International Chamber of Shipping (ICS):
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) :
We continuously monitor the situation and we shall keep our Clients, Local Manning Offices and our Seafarers advised on any developments.