West Africa – Ebola virus disease

8 August 2014

The World Health Organisation (“WHO”) has issued a statement on the Ebola virus disease following an Emergency Committee meeting that took place on 6/7 August. The statement (click here) declares the Ebola virus outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” requiring “a coordinated international response to stop and reverse the spread of Ebola“. It also states that there would be no general ban on international travel or trade.

We understand that most West African ports are currently operating normally. In the circumstances, it is vital that Members proceeding to West African ports - especially Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone which are at the centre of the Ebola virus outbreak - ensure that the Master and crew are aware of the risks and take appropriate precautions. In particular, Members calling at West African ports should also keep a vigilant watch to prevent stowaways gaining access on board and conduct searches prior to departure.

Generally, Members are advised to follow the recommendations recently issued by the International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council and the International Transport Workers’ Federation, as follows:-

  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.

A full copy of the notice can be accessed by clicking here and further details of the Ebola virus disease on WHO website can be accessed by clicking here.

Vessels who have called at a country in which the Ebola virus disease is prevalent should also consider checking with the next ports of call to ensure that any additional declarations and requirements can be complied with in a timely manner.