Although the following information is believed to be accurate at the time of writing, the situation is evolving rapidly and new measures are frequently being put into place. The local authorities’ interpretation of Ebola measures can also vary on a case by case basis. Members are therefore advised to always check with their Agents and the local Correspondents (contact details can be found on our website) well in advance of any call to an Ebola-affected country.
Our correspondents for the Ivory Coast, have set up a web page called the Ebola Maritime Awareness Collaborative Website which provides country-specific updates. Please visit this website for recent updates on a number of West and Central African countries.
The Standard Club is guided by the view and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization ('WHO') in respect of the outbreak. Members are advised to remain vigilant and fully updated with regards to the spread of Ebola. The WHO web page for updates is here.
Members who trade in West Africa should also be well informed of the current guidance issued by WHO. There are currently no trade or travel restrictions to Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia imposed by WHO, however it is imperative that members monitor the health and wellbeing of their crew, and take all necessary precautions to prevent infection.
The International Maritime Organization ('IMO') currently advises that if appropriate precautions are taken then infection can be avoided. It also advises that there should be no general ban on trade with affected countries. Members should be aware that any precautions relating to the infection apply to their crew, and also third parties such as stevedores at affected ports, stowaways, and persons in distress at sea.
Members are asked to refer to guidance for ships and shipping companies given by the IMO in their circular.
Ebola Virus Disease ('EVD')
Some key facts regarding the disease:
- Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission
- The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
- Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is, as yet, no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
- Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash and, in some cases, bleeding.
- A person who is infected is only able to spread the virus to others after they have started to have symptoms. A person usually has no symptoms for 2 to 21 days.
- EVD is not spread by breathing air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals.
Members may find the FAQ’s from the WHO website useful for quick reference.
Further, members are advised to ensure crew members are made aware of this infographic.
Personal Protective Equipment ('PPE')
WHO experts advise that it is important to have PPE that protects the mouth, nose and eyes from contaminated droplets and fluids. Hand hygiene and gloves are essential as hands are known to transmit pathogens to other parts of the body and to other individuals. Both hand hygiene and gloves will protect individuals and prevent transmission to others. Face cover, protective foot wear, gowns or coveralls and head cover are also considered essential to prevent transmission of the disease.
Members are advised to refer to the recent Standard Club web alert relating to BIMCO publishing an Infectious Diseases Clause which seeks to provide industry standard clauses.
In general, lawyers advise when agreeing a charterparty clause dealing with the consequences of calling at Ebola-affected ports, members should be aware that drafting an Ebola clause sensibly will set out the level or risk of exposure. This will be useful in determining which party is liable for extra time, demurrage, costs, fines, hire/freight, cleaning, fumigation and medical treatment. Where possible, owners should incorporate an Ebola clause into contracts of carriage under bills of lading. This can be done in two ways, either by express agreement with cargo interests, or with an indemnity against the consequences of agreeing an Ebola clause.