Three global shipping organisations have issued guidance to their members on the risks posed to ships' crews calling in countries affected by the Ebola virus.
The ICS (International Chamber of Shipping), IMEC (International Maritime Employers' Council), and the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) urgently advise that on all such vessels:
1. The Master should ensure that the crew are aware of the risks, how the virus can be spread and how to reduce the risk.
2. The ISPS requirements on ensuring that unauthorised personnel do not board the vessel should be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the vessel being in port.
3. The Master should give careful consideration to granting any shore leave whilst in impacted ports.
4. The shipowner/operator should avoid making crew changes in the ports of an affected country.
5. After departure the crew should be aware of the symptoms and report any occurring symptoms immediately to the person in charge of medical care.
The advice is supplemented with information from the World Health Organization on the virus (available here www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en)
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."
Guidance Notes from the three organisations can be viewed here