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LP 08/2020 People Die of Mysterious Killer Disease in Nigeria

2020-02-13

A strange killer disease broke out in Nigeria at the end of January and has caused 47 deaths and 365 infections as of Feburary 9th. The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated emergency response activities in affected areas and is working hard to unravel the disease. The result remains unknown to the public, and the Club hereby wants to warn vessels in or on their way to Nigerian ports of the contagious disease and to take preventive measures.

I. Killer Disease in Nigeria

According to Daily Post Nigeria on February 7th, the Nigerian government has spoken on the strange killer disease in Benue State. The illness broke out in Oyi-Obi community on Wednesday, 29 January 2020, and has killed 15 people. The first four victims all died within 48 hours of contact. Currently, the number of persons affected has exceeded 100. The disease symptoms include headache, internal heat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, weakness of the body and swollen stomach.

Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, stated that the illness had been laboratory tested and showed no symptoms of Ebola, Lassa fever or coronavirus. NCDC had activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate response activities in conjunction with Federal Medical Centre to ascertain the nature of the illness.

II. Preventing the Disease onboard Ships

The Club has confirmed with West Africa Marine P&I Nigeria on the above situation. The Nigerian government has not disclosed anything affirmative of the origin and cause of the disease. Some suspects that a chemical used in fishing in the region may be responsible and WHO investigations have ruled out bacterial and viral infections.

It’s therefore advisable for vessels heading to Nigeria or those already in Nigerian ports to take the following measures. Making a ship-specific detailed plan for prevention and control of the disease is also encouraged.

1. Increase safety awareness

Since the disease broke out only recently, seafarers may not yet be aware of the situation. Also, with the origin of the disease unidentified, effective treatment cannot be guaranteed even in hospitals. Prevention, therefore, is of utmost importance for the moment.

Avoid changing crew, taking supplies or having service providers onboard while in Nigerian ports. Ship masters should convene an emergency meeting to make aware of the disease and have the crew prepared for berthing.

2. Strict embarkation control

Persons boarding and disembarking ships at ports should be strictly monitored. Access is allowed only through the gangway and do not emplloy any other ladders.

Crew members are not permitted to disembark unless for essential purposes. Stevedores should be provided access only after registry and safety check and all visitors should be denied.

3. Restricted areas control

Lock down all non-control areas when the ship is in port and conduct regular deck patrol in accordance with the ISPS Code. Vistors should be kept out of accommodation and storerooms.

Workers that conduct stevedore and tally operations should be provided with a saparate restroom and kept out of the one in accommodation. Agents and service providers should be greeted in a designated room on the first deck. A thorough disinfection of these rooms needs to be conducted by the crew with proper PPE after those from outside the vessel have left.

4. Keep food safe

Control the consumption of food and drinking water prior to arrival. Do not take any food or fresh water at Nigerian ports when the cause of the disease is still under investigation. Keep the food storeroom and water storage tank locked to prevent contamination.

Fishing or exchanging seafood and fruits with the locals are prohibited.

Do not eat unprocessed food, especially seafood and meat. Do not drink unboiled water, even if it’s through a UV sterilizer unit.

5. Manage personal hygiene

Practice frequent hand washing and do not touch any bird, fish or random person.

Wear masks, gloves and goggles when on duty and keep social distance from stevedores to avoid unnecessary interaction.

6. Immediate disease report

Upon notice of any symptoms on visitors, including headache, internal heat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache, weakness of the body and swollen stomach, contact agent or stevedore managers for immediate disembarkation.

If such symptoms are found on the crew, report to the company and isolate the illness. Contact agent or company for assistance if the situation gets worse.

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

 

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