The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has issued guidance for the global shipping industry to help combat the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The comprehensive 22-page document has been produced in collaboration with prominent international bodies including:
- The World Health Organization (WHO)
- The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA)
Among a raft of measures highlighted in the guidance the document contains advice on managing Port Entry Restrictions, offers practical Protective Measures Against COVID-19 for Seafarers, including an Outbreak Management Plan. The guidance document 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.
Speaking at a meeting with Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO, to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the sector, Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said:
“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% of global trade and recognises its responsibility in helping tackle this global health issue whilst ensuring that the wheels of global trade continue to turn.
“This document in the result of careful and considered collaboration with international partners. It is intended to be comprehensive, but also easy to understand and implement. Providing shipowners and operators who are dealing with the sharp end of the crisis with the reassurance and guidance needed to continue to carry out their operations.
“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.”
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. It will be distributed to seafarers through the International Chamber of Shipping’s network of national member associations, is free to download from the ICS website www.ics-shipping.org and will be shared via social media. The International Maritime Organization will circulate the ICS guidance on COVID-19 as an annex to an IMO circular letter and other shipping organisations will also be encouraged to distribute the guidance to ensure that it receives the widest distribution possible.
Rod Nairn, the chief executive officer of Shipping Australia – the peak national association representing major shipping lines, ship agents and shipping service providers, commented:
“Shipping Australia and its member lines continue to ensure that all available measures are in place to protect the health and well-being seafarers and constrain the spread the virus. These precautionary measures, and the limited interactions with between crews and local people in during port visits, mean that crews of cargo ships present an extremely low risk vector for the virus.
“It is disappointing that some Australian ports continue to place additional restrictions on ship entry than the Australian Government has deemed necessary. This action has further disrupted the international supply chain forcing shipping lines to blank services and alter their port call rotations adding costs and causing inconvenience to end users.”