The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), along with international shipowner organisations, has issued guidance to seafarers on the risk posed when calling in countries affected by the Ebola virus.
The outbreak, which had claimed nearly 350 lives by the end of July, is mainly affecting the west African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Masters and crew of vessels calling at ports in these countries are advised to ensure that they are aware of the risks of the virus, how it can be spread and how to reduce the risk. Careful consideration should be made before taking shore leave in infected regions and crew should be aware of the symptoms and reporting procedures if signs become apparent.
The ITF, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) are also warning that ISPS code requirements ensuring that unauthorised personnel do not board should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.
‘Everyone is deeply concerned for those suffering from the Ebola epidemic and supportive of a coordinated world response to help them,’ a spokesperson for the three organisations said. ‘We particularly applaud all those medical staff who are risking their lives to help. In the meantime we want to make sure that those in the world shipping industry play our part in ensuring the safety of crews visiting the affected countries, and minimising the risk of the virus spreading further.’
The World Health Organisation had produced a factsheet on the Ebola virus which all seafarers entering the affected areas should read. Read the full text of the urgent communication from the ITF, ICS and IMEC.