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China publishes guidance to manage COVID-19 and protect the crew

In order to implement more scientific epidemic control of crewmembers on ocean vessels, to maintain the order of the shipping supply chain, and to protect the rights of the crew members, China issued a notice to address pressing issues.

As the Oasis P&I reports, from 15 Feb 2022, international going vessels that plan to carry out crew change in a Chinese port shall arrange Covid-19 tests for all the crew members on board before the vessel sails from the last foreign port, and crew members who have tested positive shall be treated timely.

During the voyage, crew members shall be tested on a regular basis and those who have tested positive shall be quarantined urgently and treated properly to avoid the spread of the virus.

Vessels shall report the test results together with port entry application documents to the maritime authorities at the first port of call of entering China, and in case there is any abnormality with the crew’s health, such information should be reported to the epidemic control command centre at the first port of call timely.

Covid-19 Tests to Crew on Ocean-Going Vessels

For crew members who disembark from ocean-going vessels, the customs shall conduct strict sampling and testing.

For crew members who stay on board, the customs shall conduct the test if there are suspected or confirmed cases or close contact with such cases, or if the vessel applies to change to the coastal operation or if there have been new on-signers within the last 14 days.

If the port operator promises in writing that there will be effective protection and minimum contact between the crew and shore personnel who attend onboard, after approval by the epidemic control command centre, the customs can exempt the test for crew members that have signed on in the past 14 days but are staying on board.

For a vessel that plans to undergo repairs in a Chinese shipyard, the customs shall conduct tests on the whole crew on board at the vessel’s first port of call in China; during the repairs, the local epidemic control command centre will be responsible for deciding the frequency of tests to the crew and organize the tests accordingly.

Handling of Confirmed or Suspected Cases on Board

The local epidemic control command centre shall appoint the relevant organizations to send the confirmed cases, asymptomatic cases, suspected cases and crew members who have a fever or respiratory symptoms or have been tested positive to designated medical facilities.

If such crew members cannot disembark from the vessel or need to return to the vessel and at the master’s application, after approval by the local epidemic control command centre, the crew member may return to the vessel with proper PPE and the vessel should depart China immediately.

Assistance to Sick or Injured Crew Members

The local epidemic control command centre should work out and publicize the detailed procedures, requirements and fee rates on providing assistance to sick or injured crew members. They should make sure the arrangement is made actively, timely and effectively