Further to CL 11050, below are the main takeaways from the COVID-19 teleconference with Transport Canada and other government authorities that was held earlier today:
- Canada is still in prevention mode and is working to minimize the mass entry of the virus into Canada. This being said, it is inevitable that the virus will become more widespread in Canada and the focus will then shift from prevention to support.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the lead authority on this issue, and the most up to date information can be found on their website. Transport Canada will not duplicate this information.
- PHAC stressed that general prevention measures continue to be the main management approach for the time being; i.e. hand washing, not touching your face and maintaining space with other people (especially those with symptoms).
- PHAC also emphasized that the risk of infection remains low and the chances of contracting COVID-19 from a foreign vessel is the same as in your daily life.
- Transport Canada advised that reporting protocols for vessels have not changed. Masters are to report any sick crew members through the 96 hour Pre-Arrival Information Report (PAIR), and then to update if the situation changes (see below for details).
- Transport Canada is not issuing any new vessel operation protocols at this time
- In response to specific questions posed by stakeholders, TC noted the following:
- If there is a sick crew member onboard, the first option is isolation of the crew member and not full vessel quarantine;
- There is no consideration at this time of implementing a 14 day quarantine period for vessels arriving Canada;
- There are no restrictions on crew changes for international seafarers;
- There are no restrictions on shore leave for international seafarers;
- TC will not be actively coordinating information from the ports, Seaway, etc. (so the Federation will endeavour to provide this information to members).
- The main communications channel from TC to the industry will be a weekly call similar to the one held today (we will send details to members for the next call as available).
- TC indicated that they will continue to issue Marine Security Notices as needed (but did not provide an indication of when the next one will be available)
Current Reporting Process for Vessels
- Before entering Canadian waters, shipping companies are working to keep crews safe, crews are being screened and crew changes are monitored
- All ships must report to TC 96 hours before entering Canadian waters, as per CL 11013
- This report is then shared with the PHAC to assess
- If necessary (i.e. if there a crew-related health issue on board), PHAC will provide direction to the ship and other stakeholders (pilots, ports, suppliers, etc) - For example, a sick crew maybe asked to isolate or wear a mask for example and further actions will be on a case by case basis
- If the health situation onboard changes after submission of the 96-hour report, the ship must report immediately to TC and a similar process as above will be initiated
Cruise Industry Measures
The Prime Minister today announced a number of COVID-19 related measures for the cruise industry. More specifically, the cruise season will be suspended in Canada from April 2 until at least July 1 for all cruise vessels capable of carrying 500 or more people (passengers and crew). In addition, all cruises with Canadian Arctic stops will be suspended for the entire season regardless of vessel size capacity.
We are now seeking clarification from TC as to whether cruise vessels larger than 500-person capacity wishing to lay up in Canadian waters with only a skeleton crew (i.e. no passengers on board) would be covered by the new restriction.
The Federation is working on developing a webpage with information on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other marine stakeholder information. In the meantime, please note:
- The World Health Organization and the International Chamber of Shipping have developed guidance documents for the protection of individuals and managing COVID-19 cases and outbreaks on board vessels.
- Some Canadian Port Authorities are developing protocols which we will share when available.
- Wilhelmsen has developed an interactive website showing the restrictions that are in place at ports around the world.
We will continue to provide members with regular updates on ths issue and encourage you to direct any questions to the undersigned.
Director of Marine Operations
General Information on COVID-19
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 as a pandemic. As of March 11th, there were over 118,000 cases reported in 114 countries with more than 90% of the cases being in just four countries (China, Iran, Italy and South Korea). At this time Canada has 138 reported cases of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Transmission and Prevention
The transmission of COVID-19 is understood to be human to human primarily through droplets from an infected person, from coughing or sneezing, landing on surfaces or objects around a person. Other people can then contract COVID-19 by touching these surfaces or objects and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Individuals can also become infected with COVID-19 if they breathe in the droplets from a person with COVID-19 who sneezes, coughs or breathes out droplets.
Standard Infection Protection and Control (IPC) precautions emphasize the vital importance of hand and respiratory hygiene. In particular:
- Frequent hand washing using soap and hot water or alcohol-based (at least 65–70%) hand rub for 20 seconds;
- Avoidance of touching the face including mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands (in case hands have touched surfaces contaminated with the virus);
- Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing the nose then dispose of the used tissue immediately. All used tissues should be disposed of promptly into a waste bin;
- If a tissue is not available, cover your nose and mouth and cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow;
- People should aim to keep at least one meter (3 feet) distance from other people, particularly those that cough or sneeze or may have a fever. If they are too close, other people can potentially breathe in the virus;
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