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 Table of Contents  
SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 230-231

Safeguarding the health of ship passengers and their disembarkation in the ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission18-Aug-2020
Date of Decision15-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication09-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur–Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet 603108, Tamil Nadu.
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mgmj.mgmj_76_20

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  Abstract 

The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has become one of the global public health emergencies requiring immediate and urgent attention. As the most common mode of disease transmission is through close contact and droplets, it has been advocated to avoid any unnecessary travel. It is ideal that, if the trip has not started, it should be deferred till the pandemic settles, while in case, the journey has already started, it is the responsibility of the ship authorities to safeguard the health of the onboard passengers. The first and foremost thing for all the ships who are planning for an international voyage or are stranded midway is that all these ships should formulate a detailed outbreak management plan. In conclusion, ensuring safety of passengers in the ship and their safe disembarkation is one amongst the top priorities in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is high time that all the ship authorities are well prepared and have a detailed outbreak management plan to minimize the chances of acquisition of infection and also onward transmission.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, ship, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Safeguarding the health of ship passengers and their disembarkation in the ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic. MGM J Med Sci 2020;7:230-1

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Safeguarding the health of ship passengers and their disembarkation in the ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic. MGM J Med Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 23];7:230-1. Available from: http://www.mgmjms.com/text.asp?2020/7/4/230/302811



Dear Editor,

The ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has become one of the global public health emergencies requiring immediate and urgent attention.[1],[2] The available recent estimates suggest that as on August 23, 2020, a cumulative total of more than 23 million cases and 800,000 deaths has been attributed to the novel viral infection, with the American and the European and region together accounting for the maximum share of global caseload and global deaths.[1] It is a fact that the disease is spreading at a random speed across various regions and thus calls for the need to have an accelerated and concerted response.[1],[2]

As the most common mode of disease transmission is through close contact and droplets, it has been advocated to avoid any unnecessary travel and avoid any kinds of mass gatherings. However, this will essentially require support and coordination from the travel, tourism, and trade sectors across the world, and together they become a very important domain of global preparedness and emergency response. Amidst these recent developments and the global scare, most of the cruise ships have been stranded in the sea, with nations not allowing the passengers for disembarkation.[3],[4] Even though this step has been taken with an intention to prevent disease transmission, simultaneously measures should be taken to ensure the safety of the onboard passengers, their quarantine, and repatriation.[3],[4],[5]

It is ideal that, if the trip has not started, it should be deferred till the pandemic settles. In case, the journey has already started, it is the responsibility of the ship authorities to safeguard the health of the passengers.[5] The first and foremost thing for all the ships who are planning for an international voyage or are stranded midway is that all these ships should formulate a detailed outbreak management plan, which should essentially include identification of the place for suspects isolation, mode of communication between isolated suspects and other essential departments such as housekeeping, and medical proposed management plan, protocols for monitoring contacts or cleaning and disinfection, and collection of sociodemographic details to trace the passengers after disembarkation.[1],[5] The entire crew should be trained about the infection prevention and control measures, respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene protocols and how to recognize signs and symptoms of the disease.[6]

Moreover, the ship authorities should carry out health awareness programs for the passengers and sensitize them about respiratory and hand hygiene and also display relevant preventive measures in the ship as an awareness initiative. Once a suspect case (satisfying the definition) is detected, the outbreak management plan should be activated, which includes isolation, use of medical mask, adherence to cough etiquette, and hand hygiene.[5] The neighboring health authorities should be contacted and arrangements should be made for the safe transfer of the suspect case to the healthcare establishments for further diagnosis and management.[3],[4],[5] However, before this disembarkation, all steps should be taken to prevent exposure to other persons and the probability of contamination of the environment.[4],[5]

Further, all the close contacts should be separated from other travelers and should be instructed to be in well-demarcated places and adhere to all the standard precautions until the laboratory results of the suspect cases are obtained.[5],[6] In case, the suspect case is tested positive, the contact tracing should be done for a period of 2 weeks for the development of signs and symptoms.[5] However, if the outbreak in the ship is large, these measures are applicable to all the passengers and crews. It has been recommended that all the filled forms should be stored for 30 days after disembarkation so that contact tracing can be expedited if a case gets detected.[5] The cleaning and disinfection, plus active surveillance should be strengthened extensively in the ship and all the infectious waste should be disposed of in compliance with the standard protocols.[6] The ship authorities should ensure that adequate stock of personal protective equipment and other logistics is made available to ensure that a better emergency response can be implemented.[3],[5]

In conclusion, ensuring the safety of passengers in the ship and their safe disembarkation is one among the top priorities in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. It is high time that all the ship authorities are well prepared and have a detailed outbreak management plan to minimize the chances of acquisition of infection and also onward transmission.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)––Weekly Epidemiological Report; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200824-weekly-epi-update.pdf?sfvrsn=806986d1_4. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 28].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Lee A Wuhan novel coronavirus (COVID-19): Why global control is challenging? Public Health 2020;179:A1-2.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
The Guardian. Coronavirus: Cruise Passengers Stranded as Countries Turn Them Away; 2020. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/cruise-ships-scramble-to-find-safe-harbour-amid-covid-19-crisis-as-countries-turn-them-away. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 28].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
ABC News. Cruise Ships Stranded after Countries Adopt Virus Measures; 2020. Available from: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/cuba-welcomes-cruise-ship-covid-19-seek-ports-69629790. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 28].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. Operational Considerations for Managing COVID-19 Cases and Outbreaks on Board Ships––Interim Guidance. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-20.  Back to cited text no. 6
    




 

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