(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) ICS, IMHA and INTERTANKO have created two tools to help ship operators manage cases on board: a flowchart to help identify the process to follow when managing a larger number of suspect cases of COVID-19 on board; and a PCR testing procedures matrix to help identify what to do and when prior to boarding and if a suspect case is identified on the ship.
Decision Making for On Board Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
A flowchart attached at Annex A identifies the process to follow when managing a larger number of potential cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on board. If COVID-19 cannot be satisfactorily excluded, seafarers must be treated as positive cases until further assessment shoreside or complete resolution of symptoms and isolation for 14 days. Isolation is critical in attempting to control the spread of disease on board. During the isolation period, the seafarers should not work and should be disembarked at the nearest appropriate port. In deciding on the nearest appropriate port, medical facility capabilities ashore should be
Affected seafarers should not be allowed to work and a risk assessment should be undertaken to ensure that the ship can safely undertake operations. Due regard should be taken of the safe manning certification and close liaison with the flag State must be maintained.
Isolate all patients in the sickbay, or in their own cabins, and ensure they wear medical face masks when mixing with other people. Patients should have access to bathrooms not used by others.
PCR Testing Procedures Matrix
A PCR testing procedures matrix attached at Annex B identifies what to do and when prior to boarding and also if COVID-19 is identified on board a ship.
Evidence suggests that asymptomatic persons still carry COVID-19 and transmit it to others. Testing:
- Can identify persons not identified by other screening measures;
- Should ideally be conducted on embarkation in ports or terminals, where tests are available by port health authority representatives; and
- Should currently be conducted using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which involve a swab of the nose or throat. This recommendation may change once new tests are available.
Any seafarers testing positive should not board the ship and should receive further medical assessment or tests.
A negative PCR test does not guarantee seafarers are not infected with COVID-19 and could still potentially carry it on board the ship.
Any seafarers about to join the ship developing any symptoms should not be boarded and should receive further medical advice.
The ability to test seafarers before embarkation depends on many factors including testing availability in ports and terminals.
Seafarers may become infected while traveling to a ship, so the best time to test for COVID-19 to reduce infection risks on board ship is in the port or terminal before embarkation, by isolating the seafarer ashore while awaiting the test result.
Testing before deployment to travel to a ship:
- Can reduce risks associated with COVID-19;
- May be a pre-requisite for travel by relevant authorities; and
- Avoids seafarers travelling to the ship who might not be allowed to board due to a positive test or screening upon embarkation and transmission to others during travel.
Early testing of seafarers suspected of having COVID-19 can help to mitigate spread to others on board ship and identify who else needs to be tested.
Click below to download the Guidance paper: