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Nautilus International has welcomed the publication of coronavirus COVID-19 guidance for maritime employers.

Issued by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and launched at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the guidance document aims to protect the health of seafarers and limit the spread of the virus.

The position taken echoes that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and many national governments, stressing the importance of hand and respiratory hygiene. The document advises:

  • frequent hand washing by crew (and passengers) using soap and hot water or alcohol-based (at least 65–70%) hand rub for 20 seconds
    avoidance of touching the face including mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands (in case hands have touched surfaces contaminated with the virus)
  • seafarers (and passengers) should be encouraged to cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose then dispose of the used tissue immediately
  • if a tissue is not available, crew should cover their nose and mouth and cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow
  • all used tissues should be disposed of promptly into a waste bin
    seafarers should aim to keep at least one metre (3 feet) distance from other people, particularly those that cough or sneeze or may have a fever. If they are too close, other crew members can potentially breathe in the virus
  • meat, milk or animal products should always be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, consistent with good food safety practices

Face masks are deemed to be of some use, but only in limited circumstances.

The guidance also covers issues such as: port entry restrictions; pre-boarding information and screening; management of suspected cases of infection; cleaning, disinfection and waste management.

At the end of the document are information posters for crew and passengers, a sample pre-boarding passenger locator form, and a copy of the WHO COVID-19 support and logistics supplies list.

It is intended that the ICS document will be updated in the coming weeks and months as the situation develops, and Nautilus has been invited to contribute to further versions if important new evidence comes in from members.


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