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International agencies issue Covid-19 guidance for shipping industry

International agencies issue Covid-19 guidance for shipping industry
Yashika F. Torib March 18, 2020

Shipowners, ship managers and seafarers, who are dealing with the sharp end of the trade and transport crisis caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, reassure international shipping bodies that operations shall continue, albeit with some guidelines for the safety of its people.

A new guidance for the global shipping industry, released by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), lists a raft of comprehensive measures to help combat the spread of the virus.

It was produced in collaboration with prominent international bodies, including the The World Health Organization (WHO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA).

The guidance document has been designed to support all types of ships, which operate in international waters with the most up-to-date, and effective information needed to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

Among the measures highlighted in the guidance include advice on managing port entry restrictions and offers practical protective measures against Covid-19 for seafarers, including an outbreak management Plan.

It 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 straightforward advice on hygiene measures for seafarers on ships, managing high risk exposure, case handling, isolation and cleaning, disinfection and waste management. The guidance also comes with posters, which can be printed out and placed onboard ships as well as a sample pre-boarding passenger locator form and a WHO Covid-19 support and logistics supplies list.

“With no vaccine currently available to tackle the Coronavirus, all industries and governments must take appropriate steps to contain the spread. Shipping is responsible for 90 percent of global trade and recognizes its responsibility in helping tackle this global health issue whilst ensuring that the wheels of global trade continue to turn,” says Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

“We are, however, conscious of the fluid nature of the situation and will continue to work with international bodies to ensure our guidance is in line with the most up to date developments,” he added.

The said guidance will be distributed to seafarers through the ICS’ network of national member associations, is free to download from the ICS website and will be shared via social media.

The IMO will circulate the ICS guidance on Covid-19 as an annex to an IMO circular letter, and other shipping organizations will also be encouraged to distribute the guidance to ensure that it receives the widest distribution possible.