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COVID19 is infecting cargo ships around the world. Expect it to get worse in July

This image from a video shows a livestock carrier in Fremantle, Australia Tuesday, May 26, 2020. A coronavirus cluster was detected on Tuesday on the ship berthed in the Australian west coast port of Fremantle. (AuBC/CHANNEL 7/CHANNEL 9 via AP)

PortandTerminal.com, May 26, 2020

Cases of COVID19 are being detected on cargo ships around the world resulting in crews and vessels being put into quarantine. We predict that it may get much worse in July.

FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA – Associated Press is reporting today that a coronavirus cluster was detected Tuesday on a freight ship berthed in the Australian west coast port of Fremantle.

Six of 48 crew members from the Al Kuwait tested positive for the virus four days after the livestock carrier arrived from the United Arab Emirates on Friday, Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan said.

The six infected crew were transferred to hotel quarantine in the nearby city of Perth while health officials consider what to do with the remaining 42 on board, he said.

The ship’s cargo of 56,000 sheep is being held at a feedlot near the port. They were to be loaded within days and cannot be returned to farms because of quarantine restrictions, McGowan said.

From Rotterdam to Durban and Brazil

Container ship. Crane. Containers.
FILE PHOTO: Fourteen crew members of the Brazilian container ship LOG IN JATOBA were found virus test positive at Port Santos according to The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) official statement issued on May 14. They join two other container ships already in quarantine.

Increasingly, cases of COVID19 are being detected on cargo ships around the world resulting in crews and vessels being put into quarantine.

In Rotterdam, the LEXA MAERSK has been put in quarantine after Dutch medical personnel confirmed that 5 crew members including the captain tested positive for the virus. That incident was the second time a vessel was put into quarantine in Rotterdam due to the virus.

Similarly, in South Africa, Hapag-Lloyd confirmed reports that local authorities in Durban last week ordered the 2,824 TEU container vessel Montpellier to remain at anchorage for 14 days after two members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19.

And finally there’s Brazil’s Port Santos, the most COVID-19 infected port in the world. On May 15th we reported that three cargo ships were in quarantine with confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard.

We could go on, but you get the point. Cargo ships and their crews around the world are being knocked offline and placed into quarantine as cases of COVID-19 appear onboard.

This is only going to get worse. Shipping lines have suspended crew changes in an effort to prevent the virus from getting onboard. But that can only go on for so long. As we reported yesterday, there are 200,000 exhausted seafarers on cargo ships around the world who are long past due to disembark their ships and go home.

Who will replace them when they do? Certainly, the seafarers who replace them will be tested for the virus before boarding but mistakes do happen and not everyone’s testing standards are the same.

The latest agreed deadline to implement crew changes is June 16. That means that if all goes according to schedule and the crew changes take place around then, there will be potentially 200,000 new seafarers on the world’s cargo ships in mid-June. If just 1 out of 1,000 of those new crew members is infected there will be 200 new cases onboard the world’s cargo ships. And we all know how quickly COVID-19 spreads in the tight confines of a ship.

Our bet is that we will be seeing a lot more COVID19 cases onboard cargo vessels in early July and a lot more cargo vessels put into quarantine at ports around the world.

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