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News: Implementation and enforcement of relevant IMO instruments and Joint statement with WHO

25 February 2020

Although we are seeing a fall in the new coronavirus cases in China, the WHO is concerned by global spread and the recent rise in cases reported especially from Korea and Japan. The IMO has issued a circular related to the impacts of the control measures implemented following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. This Circular Letter No.4204/Add.1 outlines the requirements and obligations on States to:

“… ensure that, where appropriate, passengers can be embarked and disembarked, cargo operations can occur, ships can enter and depart shipyards for repair and survey, stores and supplies can be loaded, certificates can be issued and crews can be exchanged.”

The provisions of the FAL Convention are also outlined.

“The principles of avoiding unnecessary restrictions or delay on port entry to ships, persons and property on board are also embodied in articles I and V and section 6 of the annex of the FAL Convention.”

The new circular will provide assistance to seafarers having problems getting on and off ships and trying to get medical assistance. The circular also draws the member states of the IMO’s attention to the latest statement from the International Labour Organization where they focus on the obligation under the Maritime Labour Convention to provide prompt and adequate medical care for seafarers:

"In the context of the evolving coronavirus outbreak, the effective protection of the health and safety of seafarers should be a priority. Under the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, flag States must ensure that all seafarers on ships flying their flag are covered by adequate measures for the protection of their health and that they have access to prompt and adequate medical care whilst working on board. The Convention also requires port States to ensure that seafarers on board ships in their territory who are in need of immediate medical care are given access to medical facilities on shore."

IMO and WHO have issued a joint statement (CL No.4204/Add.2) to assist States in ensuring that health measures are implemented in ways that minimize unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

IMO Circular Letter No.4204/Add.1 and 4204/Add.2 are available for download on the right.