COVID-19-infected seafarers surface in China, Singapore, and Vietnam

A seafarer on board bulk carrier Ipanema tested positive for COVID-19. Credit: FOTOFLITE

China, Singapore, and Vietnam have reported imported COVID-19 cases from foreign seafarers.

On 18 July 2020, customs officials in China’s Yantai port said that two Filipino seafarers had tested positive for COVID-19 in the two previous days, after they were found to have flu-like symptoms. Both were part of the crew of a cargo ship that had arrived in Yantai from Guinea.

On 17 July, the two infected seafarers were sent to a local hospital for treatment, by a negative-pressure ambulance, while the 18 other crew members have been quarantined on the vessel.

On the same day, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that a 40-year-old Filipino seafarer, who had arrived in the city-state on 16 July to sign on to a vessel, had tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement sent to SAS, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said, “One of the imported cases announced on Saturday (18 July) was a crew member who had arrived in Singapore on 16 July to work on board an oceangoing vessel. He was conveyed directly from the airport to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases as he was symptomatic. The vessel has departed Singapore on 17 July.”

On 19 July, Vietnam’s National Steering Committee (NSC) for COVID-19 Prevention and Control said that a Myanmarese seafarer, also aged 40, on Ipanema, a Handysize bulk carrier, had tested positive for COVID-19.

The NSC said that the seafarer had sailed from Japan on 16 June, and reached Hon Gai port on 23 June. At the time the bulk carrier arrived in Hon Gai, the seafarer was unwell and was segregated from the rest of the crew. AISLive data shows that Ipanema has been anchored around Hon Gai since 23 June.

Between 9 and 17 July, the seafarer underwent a series of COVID-19 tests, which were all positive. The seafarer was then sent to the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi for treatment.