The current COVID-19 situation and subsequent quarantine measures have put several industries on hold. This was done in accordance with social distancing efforts to stop the spread of the virus. But cargo shipping is not one of these, as this industry is responsible for bringing the necessary goods – such as health supplies, food, and more – to different countries. That is why even with the ongoing pandemic, precious cargo like these are still being delivered and must be protected. Standard handling measures and marine insurance in the Philippines are just some ways to shield said cargo in certain fronts.
But you may wonder what the protocols are for delivering such goods to the relevant parties. As these are being handled by people who may or may not be infected, transparency is an important factor in assurance. Let’s break down the guidelines and recommendations governing bodies have laid out for cargo shipping work during this pandemic.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) released its guide on helping protect the health of the crew on-board ships. Among its guidelines are recommended measures for seafarers to handle their personal hygiene. This involves the usual cleaning such as thorough hand washing, usage of masks, following sneezing and coughing etiquette, and avoiding touching the face. All these are needed to avoid the spread of the virus among the workers and onto the cargo.
Shipping companies have also been encouraged to make their COVID-19 prevention methods much more rigorous even before the ships begin their voyage. The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) stated that operators must be exhaustive in their pre-boarding efforts. This includes the usage of thermal scanners, regular disinfection of the ship, and filling up a locator form for easier contact tracing.
Another maritime body, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), has also made port monitoring efforts much more strict as a response to the pandemic. Much like what is being done in ships, thermal scanners and sanitizing materials are also provided for use at various ports. Contact tracing is also made easier through passenger information systems, with an isolated area reserved to receive suspected cases.
Handling and reporting of cases
Lastly, should there be a potential COVID-19 case on-board, the ICS also recommended the next steps in handling it. A suspected individual should be isolated and tested immediately, and their close contacts need to be determined so they can isolate and monitor themselves as well. If confirmed, the case must disembark the ship with much caution. Ships should have a standard plan of action on how to safely drop off an infected person to a port without coming into contact with the rest of the crew. Protective equipment should also be worn by the receiving party.
As difficult as the times are right now, various maritime organizations have all chipped in and implemented plans in preparation for infection during shipping operations. So long as these guidelines are strictly followed, cargo operations and deliveries can go off with little to no issue. That way, people stuck in their homes during this quarantine can receive their necessities safely while waiting for the pandemic to end.