The impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) on seafarers is being underestimated, according to the Singaporean ship manager Synergy Group who believes it to be the case.
Severe restrictions are being imposed against seafarers and crews calling at ports throughout the Asia Pacific region, such as the prohibition on obtaining on-arrival visas and disembarking their ships due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
CEO and founder of Synergy Group Captain Rajesh Unni said that the seafarers have been “working under tremendous pressure and doing an amazing job keeping world trade moving”, adding that many of them are “anxious about when they can see families again because of restrictions on crew changes and quarantine periods being enforced on arrival at some countries”.
Countries which have imposed said restrictions include South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The restrictions have resulted in crew members — those manning the world’s commodity-carrying bulk carriers, container ships and commercial fleet of tankers — being prohibited from exiting their ships in China, where COVID-19 had reportedly originated from.
“It’s very challenging on some routes because crew changes are not allowed at either end…But seafarers are a durable bunch. We’re very proud of how they are coping,” said Captain Rajesh.
Authorities have called upon Synergy crew members to take precautionary measures during the outbreak, such as minimising contact with shore personnel and maintaining strict personal hygiene at all times.
Over the previous month, shipping activities have been paralyzed by the Covid-19 outbreak, with large sections of the Chinese economy rendered non-functioning for an extended period of time.
The impact of COVID-19 on China’s economy has subsequently affected global cargo demand and shipping freight rates as well as the activity of businesses and supply chains all over the world in general.