We are posting updates as we receive them. Links to the CDC, WHO, and other relevant maritime resources, are below.
USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin - Vessel Inspections, Exams and Documentation - MSIB Number: 09-20
USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin - Novel Coronavirus Port and Facility Operations - MSIB Number: 07-20
USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin - Novel Coronavirus - Mariner Credentials - MSIB Number: 08-20
USCG Marine Safety Information Bulletin - Novel Coronavirus – Update (Change 3)
US ARF 30 Day Revised Operations Plan to Manage Risks Associated with COVID-19
After UNOLS Office consultation with the ARF vessel operators and Chief Scientists for cruises planned on UNOLS designated vessels for the next 30 days, and discussion within the UNOLS Council, UNOLS has recommended to NSF and ONR that a 30-day revised plan of vessel activities be implemented. During this time, we will continually monitor the situation and update as appropriate.
We recognize these are the immediate cruises that are impacted, but also recognize that downstream effects in scheduling will be inevitable.
There are several exceptions to the recommendation for this 30-day temporary pause in operations, either because ships are currently deployed or are so localized that a case-by-case approach may be considered.
Once the situation stabilizes and we see a path forward to re-start research vessel operations safely, then rescheduling of lost work will commence.
The current status of the U.S. Academic Fleet and UNOLS recommendations for activities is captured in the document https://www.unols.org/sites/default/files/US_ARF_Corona_Virus_30day_Revised_Plan.pdf
GWMMA, the fleet's telemedicine provider put out updated guidance. They wrote:
"This is complicated and health care systems (and countries) are struggling with the best way to minimize the impact of this disease. The coronavirus is proving to be difficult to contain and control worldwide. While there is no perfect way to prevent the transmission of this highly infectious disease, we would offer the following general guidance:
- Practice good hand hygiene with frequent and sufficiently long handwashing (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html for further guidance)
- Ensure all surfaces, especially hard surfaces, are cleaned frequently with approved bleach, alcohol, or peroxide based solutions (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html for further guidance)
- Ensure that hand sanitizer is available throughout the vessel to make it easy to clean hands
- Consider a 14-day shoreside quarantine period before allowing an individual onboard. Coronaviruses similar to this have been found to have a 14-day incubation period (the time period with which the disease can be spread while a patient is not showing symptoms). This is challenging because a.) the quarantine period is difficult to comply with, and b.) most of your scientists will need to fly to reach you
- If interacting with individuals during the transfer of materials to the vessels, ensure you are wearing a mask and gloves at a minimum, eliminating handshaking and physical contact. Any supplies brought on board should be disinfected as best possible. We believe the virus can live on surfaces for up to 9 days.
If crewmembers become ill with fever/flulike symptoms/cough/shortness of breath:
- Isolate them immediately in their cabin if at all possible, wearing masks and gloves if they need to move about the ship for any reason
- Contact GW Maritime Medical Access for further advice
Regarding test kits:
- Testing kits require a designated person to perform the test and a designated shoreside laboratory which can perform the test. Because the test takes days to result, its use is very limited. Theoretical benefits of testing are 1.) making sure that arriving crew and scientists (who will be embarking on the ship) are free of the virus, and 2.) testing people who become symptomatic while on board. Testing will not likely provide you answers in a timely fashion nor aid to in decision making. Prevention measures and isolation of sick scientists and crew are the best measures to keep people safe."
UNOLS Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Considerations for Operators and Scientists
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to expand and is now a serious world-wide issue. Guidelines for addressing this important issue continue to evolve in the face of this rapidly expanding challenge. UNOLS has reached out to the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA) for guidance on how to best address the issue for the UNOLS operators as well as the science parties that deploy on the ships of the Academic Research Fleet (ARF). GW MFA is the medical support provider to the UNOLS designated ships of the ARF. The attached document provides their guidance.
The World Health Organization has released guidance for operational consdierations for managing COVID-19 cases and outbreaks on board ships. That guidance is available at: https://www.who.int/publications-detail/operational-considerations-for-managing-covid-19-cases-outbreak-on-board-ships
UNOLS Operators and Scientists planning to go to sea onboard ARF vessels for funded science cruises are highly encouraged to stay well aware of the latest developments with COVID-19 and the evolving guidelines for dealing with it. There are a number of on-line resources that are helpful in understanding how the outbreak continues to evolve and how to best prepare for issues related to the outbreak. These resources include:
In addition to the GW MFA UNOLS recommendations UNOLS Operators and Science Party members shall follow the following guidance:
- In concert with the current guidance from the International Maritime Health Association, do not restrict embarkation or disembarkation of mariners and scientists in non-affected ports. However, crewmembers and science party members shall notify the vessel Master if you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days (stating where you travelled). Also please notify the Captain if you have been in contact in the past 14 days with someone with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case.
- Ships crew and science party members shall notify the vessel Master if you have been in contact in the past 14 days with someone with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case.
- Consider a 14-day shoreside quarantine period before allowing an individual onboard. Coronaviruses similar to this have been found to have a 14-day incubation period (the time period with which the disease can be spread while a patient is not showing symptoms)
- In considering whether it is acceptable for someone to embark on a cruise aboard an ARF vessel, UNOLS Operators shall consider following CDC’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Public Health Management Decision Making guidance (link noted above). Personnel who are identified as Medium or High Risk shall not embark onboard an ARF vessel.
- If any personnel embarked on a UNOLS vessel show flu-like symptoms they shall notify the ship’s Master immediately. The ship’s Master or Medical Officer shall contact GW MFA immediately to seek medical guidance.
- GW MFA recommends UNOLS Vessel Operators provision vessels with the following supplies as a preparatory step in amounts operators deem appropriate for the various research vessel types and missions: