- By Sagar Shere March 18, 2020
The Director-General of Shipping has suggested seafarers to self-quarantine immediately on arrival in India for at least a period of 14 days for those who all have travelled to coronavirus infected regions overseas.
Close to 1,90,000 Indian nationals are employed on foreign-flagged ships, both as officers and general-purpose ratings/staff. Besides, there are thousands of Indian working on cruise ships.
According to DG Shipping Amitabh Kumar, said, “Availing shore leave during the pandemic may need to be avoided and used only in exigencies with necessary precautions.”
Indian ships have been advised to develop a disease outbreak management plan for dealing with the outbreak, taking into consideration the interim guidance issued by the World Health Organisation.
“While developing the plan, vessels may consider using the hospitals on board the ships for isolating suspected cases until they are disembarked and transferred to a healthcare facility. Also, adequate protocols need to be developed for managing suspect cases on the vessel including clinical management, cleaning and disinfection of possible contaminated areas,” wrote Kumar.
Recruitment and manning agents have been told to ensure that the requirement of the physical presence of seafarers in their offices for the purpose of seafarers’ ‘sign-on’ and ‘sign off’ from ships are “kept to the minimum”. These agents have been asked to consider using online means such as video conferencing for briefing and de-briefing purpose to the extent possible.