With the threat of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus a current and real thing, it’s time for seafaring companies and professionals alike to do their best in reducing the possibility of the virus spreading. We don’t want ourselves or the people who are close to us to get infected after all. Unfortunately, it may seem more difficult for seafarers as they are one of the professions who travel the most. Even traveling to countries not under the travel ban can still be quite risky.
Still, you can prevent the spread of this disease by practicing certain measures to ensure that you and your crewmates are protected. Remember, traveling safely by boat shouldn’t just be protecting yourself from accidents, but also from nCoV and other illnesses in general.
Practice proper hygiene
This is the most basic way to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Practicing proper hygiene involves washing your hands frequently, cleaning up regularly, and not leaving a mess behind. It also involves not doing unhygienic stuff such as spitting randomly, handling objects with dirty hands, touching your face without sanitizing, etc. Make sure you buy alcohol and sanitizers with 60 – 90% alcohol as this is the most effective in removing harmful germs.
Get the right mask
While the virus itself isn’t airborne, it’s still recommended for possibly infected members of the crew to get this in order to prevent it from spreading. N95 masks and surgical face masks are recommended as they have the protection needed to filter germs. You must also know how to use and dispose of the masks so you can avoid wearing one far longer than its intended duration of use.
Inform employers of possible infection
As much as we may think that what we’re feeling couldn’t possibly be the virus, it’s better to be safe and sorry. If you feel you’re experiencing what may be symptoms of nCoV, inform your employers about it immediately. That way, they can do the proper protocol needed to alert the authorities and send you for immediate care and testing. The common symptoms are cough, difficulty in breathing, and fever (at least 38 C). If you feel that or more, let everyone know as soon as possible.
Isolate possibly infected crew members
Of course, it would be difficult to isolate crew members who are suspected of the infection. However, efforts still need to be done while the patient and the ship are still at sea. Put them in their living quarters and quarantine them until it’s time to send them to the nearest medical center. At the same time, even the ones who aren’t infected still need to be observed and quarantined to ensure they didn’t catch the virus themselves.
As you can see, the general methods in preventing such an outbreak onboard is pretty much the same as what we do on land, but applied to the maritime setting. We must keep ourselves vigilant in terms of our hygiene and our symptoms to ensure the virus doesn’t spread as much. Aside from this, one must also do their best to boost one’s immune system to combat the virus. As seafarers, you are more prone to it, so take extra caution in everything you do.