News 09 Jul, 2020

COVID-19: ICS Publish Coronavirus Guidelines (Update)

In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has produced an updated set of guidelines to help shipping companies comply with the advice previously issued by several Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs).

IGOs such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) contributed to the guidelines, although ship owners/ship managers and a ship service company have also played a significant role in its development.

On 30th January the WHO Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR), declared that the COVID-19 outbreak met all the necessary criteria to be classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). 

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said: “This guidance should give confidence to national governments that crew changes can and must be carried out. Especially when there are critically ill crew members on board. We’re receiving alarming reports of seafarers who are suffering from serious medical injury such as a stroke, be denied medical evacuation for over 4 days. This is simply not acceptable”.

The guidance builds on a previous version issued in March, providing comprehensive recommendations on safe port entry, shipboard measures to address risks associated with COVID-19 and managing other medical issues during COVID-19, including medical assistance to seafarers in ports.

“The new guidance should serve as further reassurance to governments and port authorities that it is fully possible to conduct crew changes in a safe and effective manner. Urgent action is now required to ensure that no other seafarers are subjected to prolonged period without medical assistance if they need it”.

Members are advised that information on the coronavirus outbreak can be found on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Coronavirus webpage, including the latest situation reports.

Members requiring further guidance or assistance should contact the Loss Prevention department.

ICS – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers (Version 2.0) can be read here.