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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers

In response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, this Guidance has been produced by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to support all types of ships which operate in international waters. The purpose is to help shipping companies follow advice provided by United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

COVID-19 – a virus which can lead to respiratory disease and pneumonia – was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. More than 90,000 cases have been reported at the time of going to print, including several thousand deaths. While most of these have been concentrated in China, the virus now appears to be spreading globally. No vaccine is currently available, and the focus of health authorities worldwide has been containment of the virus through preventative measures to limit and slow down widespread transmission.

The WHO has declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR).

This severe public health challenge requires close co-operation between governments and shipping companies engaged in maritime trade, in order to protect the health of seafarers (and passengers) as well as the general public.

ICS is grateful for the support of the following organisations in preparing this Guidance: IMO, ILO, WHO, International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC) and Wilhelmsen Ships Service.


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