COVID-19 – Do not relent


As more and more countries achieve higher vaccination numbers for their population against COVID-19, the world is seeing a relaxation in measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic. There are encouraging signs that life is slowly getting back to a new normal in many countries, however, we would like to reiterate that the pandemic is far from over.

Latest data published by WHO suggests a trend of rising weekly cases over the past few weeks. The world is experiencing over 3 million new cases globally every week and the epicenter of the pandemic keeps shifting from one country to another as the world grapples to control the situation.Newer, more virulent mutations of the virus are spreading faster and are causing serious illness. The vaccines are trying to keep up with the new variants and it remains to be seen when the pandemic can be categorized as an endemic.

The club is also seeing a rising trend in the number of incidents where seafarers are testing positive for COVID-19. This trend has been seen across all divisions and it is notable that there has been a marked increase in cases, and as a proportion of the club’s overall cases, from divisions and geographical areas which had previously seen relatively few incidents. Seafarers remain at the forefront of this global pandemic, where they not only have to follow stricter precautions due to the nature of trade and travel, but also deal with the anxiety and stress of being away from their families in a fast-changing hazardous environment on board ships. While a small proportion of seafarers have been vaccinated, a large number are still waiting for their turn.

We would like to remind members that as the restrictions ease in some jurisdictions due to vaccination, shipping remains at a high risk, being a global industry. In addition, none of the vaccines currently approved and widely available offer 100% protection against the virus so appropriate precautionary measures must continue to be exercised.

It is critical that members reinforce to their teams both ashore and at sea to remain cautious, resilient and motivated. Members and their crews must continue to exhibit appropriate behaviour and take suitable precautions in respect of COVID-19 at all times, and especially when they are in port. We recommend that members remind themselves of the International Chamber of Shipping’s Guidance for Ensuring a Safe Shipboard Interface Between Ship and Shore-Based Personnel and adhere to this guidance.

Members and their crews must ensure that appropriate precautions are taken when interacting with visitors or whenever there is a crew change. Social distancing, use of face masks, frequent hand washing, good hygiene, sanitization of common areas are a few of the basic precautions which must always be followed, irrespective of whether the seafarer is vaccinated or not. The club has produced guidance in this respect. These precautions will help ensure that the crew remain safe and healthy and the ships are able to keep moving.

Where cases of COVID-19 are suspected on board members should promptly notify their usual club contact, review the club’s advice on caring for patients and follow the club’s recommendations.