Stephen Cotton, SRI Advisory Board Member and General Secretary of the International Transport Federation (ITF) has provided a Coronavirus update for seafarers.
“The ITF is closely following all advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the current outbreak, calling upon all governments and transport companies to implement all measures available to them to limit the risk of transmission of the deadly coronavirus to transport workers globally. This is particularly important for airline, border, cruise workers, seafarers and port workers who are on the frontline of the outbreak.
The following advice from the International Maritime Health Association is more specific to the maritime industry, seafarers and dock workers:
- 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 not 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 vaccination, alcohol-based hand sanitiser 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 days 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.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Corona virus infection, the best way to protect yourself from infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The following advice from the UN lists everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of the virus:
- Frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough.
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.
- Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas.
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or eggs to avoid cross-contamination.
The ITF will provide further updates as appropriate and you can find information on our website. You can also keep up to date with WHO advice on their website.”