COVID-19 advice issued to seafarers arriving at Chinese ports

Shanghai port, China. Credit: Southern Cross Maritime

COVID-19 safety measures for the busiest Chinese ports has been updated by the Swedish Club.

The latest information provides specific advice for seafarers arriving at Chinese ports and is based on the experience and measures adopted by ships to prevent the SARS epidemic in 2002 and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. The WHO information is titled Guidelines for the prevention and control of epidemic-prone and pandemic acute respiratory infections in health care.

The updated specific advice for seafarers is as follows:

Timely notification
Members should notify the ship in a timely manner of the current coronavirus in China so that crew fully understand the risk and, if possible, members should not replace crew members during the period of heavy passenger flow during the Chinese Spring Festival.

Reduce physical contact between ship and shore
Members should create a temporary safety policy and  in the near future, try not to arrange any activities such as ship-to-shore exchange, on-board survey / inspection, internal and external audit, and maintenance. All on-board visits and family visits should be prohibited.

Strengthen control at vessel’s gangway
During the berthing period in port, the captain should ask the duty crew at the gangway to strengthen the control and strictly check the identity of all boarding personnel. At the same time, in the port with reported coronavirus outbreaks, crew members should be prohibited from leaving the ship during berthing.

Restricted area for foreign personnel
The vessel should strictly control the activity area of foreign personnel on board the vessel, set up a tally room and reception room on the main deck, and control the entry of agents, tally man, foreman, suppliers and other foreign personnel into the crew’s living area.

Pay attention to food safety
Food for ships should be purchased from regular suppliers, to avoid buying food from ports and regions where epidemic diseases are found. In the following days, more fresh vegetables and fruits should be added, and meat and poultry products should be reduced. Keep cutting boards and knives separate for raw and cooked food. Avoid raw food, especially meat and seafood.

Focus on personal hygiene
Crew should wash their hands, take baths and change clothes frequently as well as washing hands with soap or healthy sanitizer and washing working clothes frequently with disinfectant and put the clothes working outside in the locker room, rather than wearing them back to personal rooms. Crew should use a tissue or elbow to cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent spray. The used tissue should be  incinerated.

Strengthen self-protection
The crew would benefit from wearing surgical masks during the berthing period, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, and to avoid going out to public places and contact with livestock and wild animals during berthing.

Carry out suspected screening
The captain should strengthen the security screening of suspected cases of the ship. If any external person is found to have such symptoms as cold, cough or fever during berthing period, he shall immediately notify the agent, foreman or relevant party. If the crew members have similar symptoms in port, they should immediately arrange for medical treatment ashore. If during the voyage, quarantine should be arranged first, the crew with symptoms should not participate in collective activities, and the company should be informed of the crew’s symptoms in time.