Despite one of the the world’s largest shipping lines, Maersk, recently suspending all crew changes aboard its container vessels for up to one month in order to shield crew and operations from the coronavirus and keep them “as normal as possible,” this weekend witnessed the first ever confirmed cases aboard a container ship.
In the past days reports have emerged that an entire crew from the Danish-flagged ship Gjertrud Maers have been tested, with some evacuated and hospitalized in Ningbo, China. A Maersk company spokesman later said in a press statement that “a number of our seafarers” on the ship were suspected for the virus.
“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,” the Maersk statement said.
“The vessel was awaiting phasing into our network and currently idle at the quayside in Ningbo, China,” it added. “Extra precaution measures will be taken for crew replacement and sanitations will be implemented.”
Subsequent reports on Monday via state-run China News Service (CNS) indicate at least five of the crew members have tested positive for Covid-19, after a total of 22 foreign crew members were put in isolation aboard the ship while awaiting testing.
Initially seven crew members were reported as having “abnormal physical condition” over a week ago. Maersk did not immediately confirm the crew tested positive, however.
CEO of Maersk Ocean and Logistics, Vincent Clerc, late last week updated global customers and partners as to how the pandemic will impact shipping volume. He confirmed in a statement that necessary drastic actions taken by governments and companies to contain the spread of the virus will result in an economic slowdown. He added that recent interaction and conversations with customers “confirm our expectation of lower volume demand in the coming weeks.”
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