The World Health Organization published an implementation guide for the management of COVID-19 on board cargo ships and fishing vessels. Ship personnel, whether working on ships engaged in cargo transport or fishing, typically work in close contact environments and are therefore susceptible to the transmission of coronavirus. A COVID-19 outbreak presents special risks for crew and officers making extended voyages without calling at any port and lacking access to shoreside medical facilities. Such an outbreak puts their safety and well-being at risk and may affect their ability to safely navigate and operate the ship.
The guide highlights that all ships and fishing vessels should have a written COVID-19 contingency management plan. Following its implementation, the plan should be tested regularly and updated as required. The plans should include surveillance and reporting, isolation and quarantine, case management, infection prevention and control measures, communication with authorities and training.
The guide is comprehensive. For Pre-embarkation, it covers port state requirements, ship requirements and preboarding screening. When onboard, it details the preventive measures, how to manage suspected and confirmed cases, transfer cases to shoreside medical facility for further treatment and manage contacts of cases etc. The guide also provides practical procedures to be implemented when leaving the ship, including public health measures, repatriation of ship personnel, vaccination and even mental health are revealed. Please refer to following website for full version of the guide: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Non-passenger_ships-2021-1