Ships stuck in seas and ports, virus prevention becoming a threat

One more cruise ship, this time it’s WESTERDAM (IMO 9226891, Holland America), got stuck on high seas, after she was banned from her scheduled Manila visit. There are no ill persons on board, no symptoms of any disease, the ship is immobilized by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte decision to temporarily ban travellers from China, Hong Kong and Macau from disembarking in the country. WESTERDAM last port of call was Hong Kong, hence the ban. The ship is scheduled to visit Kaohsiung Taiwan, on Feb 5, so she has to hang around in South China sea, waiting out schedule gap, with more than 2000 tourists on board.

In Greece meanwhile, container ship on arrival from China couldn’t berth as scheduled, because first) medics rejected to board her for crew screening, and second) tugs refused to take her to Piraeus. The ship was finally, berthed, but with a delay and a lot of headaches for all concerned.
In Americas and Europe, there are growing public and authorities concerns, and growing demand of most strict screening treatment of all ships arriving from Asia. Not just from China, but ships arriving from all Asian ports, should be subject to immediate quarantine, or even ban, whether there are ill seamen with suspicious symptoms on board, or not.

Combating coronavirus, by and by, is becoming more and more scary process in itself, without virus. Maybe more scary, than virus outbreak itself. The way it all goes, one may soon walk in trade center for a cup of coffee, and find himself instead, in a quarantine zone, secluded for 2 or 3 or whatever, weeks, just because he’d happen to be near person or persons with virus symptoms or on the same floor with them, or in the hall or shop. It’s really scary. Lives, careers and businesses, may be ruined by just that, by quarantine seclusion.

Our lifelines, our supply chains, are already threatened by growing worldwide hysterics. Quarantine here, ban there, refusals to handle ships and cargoes – pandemic of combating virus is growing like a snowball. Frankly, I don’t know what’s worse, what’s more threatening, what’s bigger evil – virus outbreak with as of now, very low mortality rate, or disrupted supply chains and collapsing economy. I’d prefer some minimal preventive measures with uninterrupted power, food, water lifelines, to a total quarantine, which will leave us without energy, food and transportation. “Us” – I mean us, common people. Elites will hardly notice it. They live in their own luxury quarantine (from us), all their lives.

Voytenko Mikhail
February 03

Author

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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.