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International Chamber of Shipping to meet with World Health Organization to discuss impact of COVID-19

February 28, 2020
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International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Secretary General, Guy Platten, will lead a delegation of industry leaders to meet with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the shipping sector and the industry is working closely with the WHO to ensure that guidelines for industry and governments help limit the spread of COVID-19, whilst maintaining international trade. ICS is currently working on updated guidance for industry. Guy Platten will be joined by representatives of other shipping industry bodies and shipowners, including the MSC Group who are based in Geneva, in the meeting with senior representatives of the WHO and IMO

Ahead of the meeting Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, said: 'We have a special obligation to ensure the safety and health of seafarers and passengers. We have proposed a collaboration with WHO to evaluate and refine best practices regarding managing health threats in a shipboard environment. The cruise industry in particular has highly advanced practices and procedures and we are looking for practical ways to adapt those to broader maritime applications. We hope this effort will help provide some additional clarity and consistency for shoreside authorities when addressing ships during a health emergency. The maritime industry, especially ICS and its Members, are fully committed to these efforts.

'Our thoughts are especially with the Chinese people and the maritime industry is standing ready to be a powerful engine that helps them recover when this situation improves.'

ICS and its members are taking every precaution necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To this extent, ICS has been advising all members to closely follow its WHO-backed guidelines on how to limit the risk of infection. With the number of infections continuing to rise globally, ICS and the WHO are continually updating health guidelines.

The impact of the virus on shipping has been substantial. It is estimated to be costing the industry $350m a week in lost revenues. More than 350,000 boxes have been removed from global trade. Global supply chains continue to suffer, and issues remain around the quarantining of ships at ports.

Platten added: 'I am grateful to the WHO for their support and the collaboration that they are providing to the international shipping sector. Dialogue and partnership are vital in our efforts to overcome this challenge in the most effective way possible.'

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