ICS described the protocols as an effective tool that aims to safeguard the health of seafarers, passengers and the general public alike, and ensure the safe operation of maritime trade.
Build upon May's guidance
The new measures build on previous health guidance issued by the shipowners’ body in May, an update deemed necessary because of 'concerns over COVID-19 infections on board ships, due to a small minority failing to adhere to industry guidance,' ICS said.
The latest protocols advise on how seafarers can embark and disembark ships safely, even in the event of cases of infection aboard, and contain what are described as two useful instruments for ship operators.
PCR testing procedures
One is a flowchart to help identify the process to follow when managing a larger number of suspected cases on vessels and the other is a PCR testing procedures matrix to help identify what to do and when prior to boarding and if a suspect case is identified on ships.
The new protocols are designed to reassure governments that 'crew change and seaborne trade pose limited health risks,' ICS concluded — a matter of some urgency given the current humanitarian crisis where, it pointed out, 'over a quarter of a million seafarers are stranded at sea, awaiting repatriation.'