LP 03/2020 Preventing Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia on board Ships


Situation Report

According to China Central Television, as of 9:00 p.m. on January 21st 2020, the National Health Commission (NHC) has received report on 309 confirmed cases (270 in Hubei, 5 in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong, 5 in Chongqing, 6 in Shanghai, 5 in Zhejiang, 1 in Taiwan, 1 in Henan and 2 in Tianjin), 54 suspected cases in mainland China (11 in Hubei, 7 in Guangdong, 3 in Sichuan, 7 in Shanghai, 16 in Zhejiang, 2 in Jiangxi, 1 in Yunnan, Guangxi, Shandong, Jilin, Anhui, Hainan, Guizhou and Ningxia respectively) and 117 suspected cases in Hong Kong. Globally, 1 confirmed case from Japan, 2 from Thailand and 1 from South Korea have been reported.

Aditionally, the NHC has tracked 1,739 persons that had close contact history with confirmed cases, and there are 817 persons relieved from quarantine and 922 persons still kept under observation.

A public announcement was issued on January 20th 2020 by NHC, incorporating the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) into the Class-B infectious diseases specified in the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, and taking preventio and cntrol measures of Class-A infectious diseases. Management of NCP should be in compliace with that of quarantinable infectious diseases as stipulated in the People’s Republic of China Frontier Quarantine Inspection Law.

Party members of NHC has convened a conference to study implementation of State Council decisions regarding NCP prevention and control. It is proposed to improve joint prevention and control mechanism to avoid spreading of the virus in Wuhan, strengthen case management and allocate medical resources to minimize casualties. Also, it will strive to identify the source of infection and ways of transmission as soon as possible, closely monitor its development and deepen international exchanges and cooperation, making sure work is orderly carried out throughout all systems during the Spring Festival.

Coronavirus Q&A

According to the press release of NHC in the afternoon on January 20th, China has reported the outbreak to WHO since the beginning in compliance with the IHR (2005) emergency reporting system. Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the international community were notified as well. It has also shared with the world the genetic sequenceof the novel coronavirus. WHO has also answered some frequently asked questions on its official website.

Q1: What is a “novel” coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

Q2: Can humans become infected with the 2019-nCoV from an animal source?

Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans in China in 2002 and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Q3: How dangerous is it?

As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with 2019-nCoV can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.  It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

Q4: Can the 2019-nCoV be transmitted from person to person?

Yes, the 2019-nCoV can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example in a household, workplace, or health care centre.

Q5: Is there any vaccine currently effective in treating 2019-nCoV?

No vaccine is effective at this moment and developing a new one will take years.

Q6: Can the infected patients be cured?

To date, there is no specific treatment recommended, but those infected will receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms. Those with severe illness will receive optimized supprotive care.

Q7: What can I do to protect myself?

Take care of your health by doing the following: practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene; keep a safe and healthy diet; maintain social distancing and avoid close contact with those who are coughing, sneezing and having a fever.

Q8: Are health workers at risk of infection?

Yes, Health workers caring for persons who are sick with 2019-nCoV are at higher risk and must protect themselves with appropriate infection prevention and control procedures.

Q9: What is WHO’s advice to the world?

WHO encourages countries worldwide to strictly monitor severe acure repiratory infections and the epidemiology of the outbreak, and report to WHO once there is any case with similar symptoms or identified of infections. Infection prevention and control measures should be taken in accordance with WHO Interim Guidelines, which can be found here: https://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/WHO_CDS_EPR_2007_6/zh/

Prevention Onboard

Outbreak of NCP onboard moving vessels can be fatal for crew members frequently engaged in group activities as immediate medical support cannot be guaranteed. By refering to WHO Interim Guideline Infection Prevention and Control of Epidemic- and Pandemic-prone Acute Respiratory Infections in Health Care and the practical experience in combating SARS onboard ships in 2002, the Club would like to advise our Members on the following.

1. Sharing up-to-date information

Member shipowners should communicate the latest development to its crew and shore-based staff and inform them of the risks. During the Spring Festival when there’s a high traffic volume and before the disease gets under control, it’s better not to change the crew.

2. Limiting unnecessary movements

Establish a temporary safety regulation to reduce unnecessary ship inspections (internal and external), repair and maintenance activities and to cancel all ship visits.

3. Strengthening registry for embarkation

Officers at the gangway should closely monitor all persons getting onboard when the ship is at berth. Irrelevant persons should be denied of embarkation and disembarkation is forbidded in NCP affected countries and ports.

4. Managing restricted areas

Limit visitors from outside the vessel to specific areas and establish a cargo handling area and a reception area on the main deck. Agencies, tallymen, workers and suppliers are restricted from accommodation.

5. Maintaining food safety

Purchase from qualified suppliers and avoid taking provisions at affected ports. Take more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of meat products and do not eat uncooked food like raw meat and seafood. Also, use separate cutting boards and knives for processed and unprocessed food.

6. Practicing hygienic measures

Frequent hand-washing, showering and changing of clothes. Use soaps or alchohol-based hand rubs when washing hands. Do not wear the working suits back to accommodation and immerse them in sterilizers when doing laundry. Practice cough etiquette by covering the nose and mouth with disposable tissues or sneeze into upper sleeves to avoid transmitting virus through droplets. Disposed tissues should be incinerated.

7. Enhancing self protection

Owners should provide ship crews with adequate stock of PPE. Masks should be donned by crews the entire time at berth. No close contact with anyone with flu like symtoms or contact with wild animals. Do not go to public or crowded places if it isn’t necessary.

8. Conducting health screening

Masters should carry out health screening onboard vessels, keep away anyone from outside the vessel with cough, fever or flu like symtoms and report such cases immediately to agencies or relavant authorities. If illness is found among the crew when the ship is at berth, arrange immediate treatment outside the vessel (if allowed) and when the ship is en route, isolated the ill from the rest of the crew and report to the company.

For further consultation, please contact your manager at the Club.



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Standing by the Members, we are now answering your questions about COVID-19