Maersk Group, a Danish business conglomerate dealing in integrated cargo container shipping and supply chain services, has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 aboard one of its container ships, the M/V GIERTRUD MAERSK.. Although four of these cases are asymptomatic, all five were evacuated to a hospital in Ningbo, China for more intensive treatment. The GIERTRUD MAERSK is the first container ship with publicly-reported positive COVID-19 cases on board. She is currently docked in Ningbo and awaiting rotation within Maersk’s shipping network.
“We can confirm that, during the past week, several seafarers on board the container vessel Gjertrud Maersk were feeling unwell,” a Maersk spokesperson told shipping media outlets on Monday. “As per our established protocols, the seafarers were isolated on the vessel when symptoms appeared and we are providing medical treatment based on input from our medical advisers…. Extra precaution measures will be taken for crew replacement and sanitation will be implemented.”
Although Maersk Line reportedly already had taken precautions to minimize COVID-19 risk to crew, such as suspending crew changes across it fleet in order to comply with the severe international restrictions on travel in port states, concerns have arisen from seafarers’ advocacy organizations. Human Rights at Sea, one such organization we recently posted about, published an editorial intended to increase public awareness of these problems. The International Transport Worker’s Federation (IFT) also called on Maersk and other vessel operators to allow crews to rotate off as scheduled and return to their homes.
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