The three countries hardest hit by Ebola – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea –
all have ports along the world’s main maritime shipping routes. Is it any wonder seafarers and dockworkers are concerned?
Videotel’s new video (preview above) provides mariners with Ebola prevention information.
Some 90% of the world’s goods are transported by ship along global maritime shipping routes and through densely populated ports. With millions of seafarers and dockworkers coming into contact with each other on a daily basis, the shipping lanes and ports are a potential nexus for spreading illness. Ebola, a deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or cure, has been ravaging West Africa since March and the three countries hardest hit by the disease – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – all have ports along the world’s main maritime shipping routes. Is it any wonder seafarers and dockworkers are concerned? Ebola-related maritime news reports in recent weeks include:
- A longshoremen’s union in Baltimore, MD, would not work on a ship from West Africa
- A ship was quarantined in Durban, South Africa, on fears of it carrying Ebola
- A Chinese ship was quarantined in the Cape Verde Islands until its crew could be tested
Thankfully, there is no known case of Ebola being spread by ship, and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Travel and Transport Task Force recently issued a statement recommending against any bans on travel or trade related to the Ebola epidemic. Although there are currently an estimated 13,000 cases of Ebola and 5,000 victims have died, there are signs of progress in containing the spread of the virus: In late October, WHO declared both Nigeria and Senegal free from Ebola after those countries went 42 days (twice the maximum incubation period of Ebola virus) without a new case of the disease.
What is the best approach for seafarers to protect themselves? WHO’s Travel and Transport Task Force suggests awareness: “The best protective measures for non-affected countries are adequate levels of preparedness…Communication campaigns should be conducted to inform travellers, airlines, shipping crews, staff working at points of entry, and health workers everywhere about the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and what to do if a person has symptoms.”
There are many resources available for seafarers seeking information about Ebola safety, including an infographic from the International Maritime Organization and WHO.
“Ebola – Staying Safe” is a 15-minute safety training video for mariners that has just been released by Videotel, a KVH company. Mariners watching the Ebola safety video will learn:
- What Ebola is and how to recognize its symptoms
- How crew can protect themselves from Ebola
- What steps masters, ship owners, and ship managers can take to keep crew members safe
- Strict safety and health guidelines for mariners that must be followed
James Cleave of Videotel, producer of “Ebola – Staying Safe,” notes that the safety video includes footage from West Africa and was produced in eight weeks’ time, start to finish, to ensure up-to-date information. The video was produced in association with Steamship Mutual P&I Club and a panel of medical and subject matter experts, including Dr. Joe Baker of Medical Rescue International.
Recognizing the humanitarian crisis, KVH created a website to provide all mariners around the world with a free copy of the “Ebola – Staying Safe” video.
Please help ensure the safety of seafarers and share the information about the free Ebola safety video with any mariners you know.