InterManager has urged its members to heed guidance, issued this week by three global shipping organisations, on the risks posed to ships’ crews calling in countries affected by the Ebola virus.
Advice from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) urgently warns that on all such vessels:
- The Master should ensure crew are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk
- The ISPS requirements on ensuring unauthorised personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel in port
- The Master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave while in impacted ports
- The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of affected countries
- After departure, crew should be aware of Ebola symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care
The advice is supplemented with information from the World Health Organization on the virus (available here)
Already the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has suspended the deployment of new Overseas Filipino Workers to Ebola-hit countries and is also implementing a “no shore leave” policy for Filipino seafarers passing through West African countries affected by Ebola virus.
InterManager President Gerardo Borromeo urged ship operators to remain vigilant. “Ship managers should put in place sensible precautions to reduce the risks as much as possible,” he said. “Restricting shore leave when in affected areas such as West Africa, and ensuring that any necessary visitors observe effective sanitization practices, such as the use of disinfectant hand washes, and personal protective equipment are sensible measures which should be taken.
“Overall vigilance at the end of the day may help mitigate some of the major risks.”