Shipping and union groups issue urgent ebola advice

The ICS (International Chamber of Shipping), IMEC (International Maritime Employers’ Council), and the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) have issued joint advice to members on Ebola following the ongoing outbreak in West Africa.

The groups have issued strong recommendations to all vessels calling at countries affected by the recent outbreak. The advice includes ensuring crew are aware of the risk of ebola and the ways it can be transferred, adhering to ISPS requirements to safeguard against unauthorised personnel boarding the vessel, giving careful consideration before granting shore leave in affected countries, avoiding making crew transfers in affected countries and monitoring crew for symptoms after departing affected areas.

The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has killed at least 800 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and has a current mortality rate of around 55%. The disease presents with flu-like symptoms which can develop into internal and external bleeding, including from the eyes, nose and gums.

The virus that causes the disease is spread by contact with the bodily fluids, has an incubation period up of two to 21 days and is believed to be initially transferred from fruit bats.

There is no vaccine or cure for the disease, supportive care is all the can be offered, the most crucial of which is keeping victims hydrated.

A spokesperson for the three organisations commented: “Everyone is deeply concerned for those suffering from the Ebola epidemic and supportive of a coordinated world response to help them. 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.”

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