Tips to prevent the spreading of infection in the shipping industry

Although most customers typically will not notice any change in their ability to purchase goods and receive shipments from digital or brick-and-mortar suppliers, they should be aware that the shipping industry is working hard to keep business as usual in the light of the outbreak of Coronavirus virus (COVID-19). 

However, both the logistics industry and customers need to be informed of the positive measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. In the text below we will list some of the protocols that are crucial in order to prevent further infections.

Preparations

A global pandemic, like the one we are going through, requires an additional set of preparative protocols that can help prevent new infections, both on the shipping vessel and off.

Educating the crew, and anyone aboard the vessel, is crucial and should provide the following information:

  • The symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Health risks and health services for disadvantaged populations, such as the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions, in different countries
  • The importance of preventive measures 

Pre-embarkation

It is necessary for the crew members to go trough thorough health checks before boarding any vessel. Anyone having symptoms, or testing positive should not be admitted aboard the vessel.

Both crew and passengers should be informed of the need to report as soon as possible a new, persistent cough or high temperature, with specific instructions on what to do and the person they are expected to report to.

During the voyage

The spread of COVID-19 in maritime settings can be prevented by reminding the staff of public health advice. They can be reminded by posters, leaflets and/or other methods. 

The importance of regular handwashing must be stated repeatedly. Surfaces and objects that are touched regularly must be disinfected on a regular basis. 

Additional protocols that are required are: 

  • Crew members that have to be in contact with other people that are not aboard the vessel must wear the appropriate protective equipment. 
  • The crew should enter the cabin only if necessary and nobody should be permitted inside the cabin unless they wear a suitable PPE consisting of a fluid-repellent face mask, gloves, and a disposable apron. Meals should be left outside the door and usual housekeeping requirements should be suspended.
  • Staff must wash their hands with soap and water immediately after removal of PPE or use alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Proper disposal of PPE must be respected 

Disembarkation

Proper protocols for disembarkation must be in place in order to complete a completely safe voyage. These protocols should include:

  • Disembarkation plans for possible cases
  • Management of intrapersonal contacts
  • Who may and may not leave the vessel
  • Strengthened monitoring, reporting, washing, and respiratory hygiene steps
  • Any follow-up surveillance needed and any further travel restrictions where required

Ships are required to report any onboard illness to the port of arrival by submitting a Maritime Health Declaration (MDH).