Coronavirus threat hampers emergency medical assistance on ships

Russian 57-year old seaman on Feb 20 suffered serious right foot injury during routine works on board of Russian bulk carrier ORANGE LINK, anchored on Incheon anchorage, Korea, Yellow sea, since Feb 7. Medical team couldn’t board the ship until Coast Guard and Quarantine Service checked the crew on possible coronavirus infections. Nothing suspicious was found, medics boarded the ship and applied emergency treatment on board, patient later was transferred to hospital.
Here’s the question – luckily, it wasn’t life-or-death case, patient wasn’t in need of immediate evacuation and intensive care, but what would happen if he was in need of immediate evacuation? If countdown was on and it was a question of hours or minutes? I refer to virus screening procedures – it’s hours, and patient could die, though he could be saved under normal circumstances. Trauma accidents, or cases of heart attack, internal bleeding, etc., happen on board of merchant ships every day, globally. Now it seems, risk of dying in such cases is much bigger than before, even if the ship is anchored or moored at port, with many hospitals and doctors at hand. There’s a time gap of hours, required for virus check, between patient in need, and qualified full-scale treatment.
Look at photo – medics treat seaman on board of the ship, all donned in biohazard suits, after the ship was virus-checked.
Bulk carrier ORANGE LINK, IMO 8653073, dwt 16652, built 2006, flag Sierra Leone, manager ORANGE MARINE CO LTD-RUS, Vladivostok, Russia.



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.