By TGN Editorial Team
On 30th January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The WHO regularly releases update on the situation which cites the number of victims, affected countries and regions, and other information regarding the virus. A widespread information about basic guidelines on how to prevent getting affected has been released to the public.
These information from the WHO, along with the announcements from international and local health units, are meticulously being supported and adapted by the Thome Group for the benefit of all staff and crew ashore and on board.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has issued guidance for the maritime industry in a series of circulars based on the WHO’s recommendations.
The Thome Group takes the health and safety of all its personnel seriously. All seagoing personnel undergo rigorous pre-employment medical examinations to ensure they are fit and well and crews’ health and wellbeing is continually monitored by the senior vessel staff while at sea.
The company is complying with both WHO guidelines and national public health authority advisories as a minimum, and in Singapore we have implemented actions as advised by the Ministry of Health.
This includes complying with actions corresponding to the latest DORSCON level as indicated in the Business Continuity Guide: Contingency Planning for Infectious Disease Pandemic. This ensures that we have taken all necessary precautions to safeguard both our employees ashore and onboard our vessels whilst simultaneously minimizing disruptions to our operations.
As a minimum, extra care should be taken by all staff whether at sea or ashore in terms of their own personal hygiene to protect themselves from catching the virus.
We advise staff to wash their hands frequently with soap and running water or by using alcohol-based hand rub and especially during the following situations:
- After coughing or sneezing
- When caring for the sick
- Before and after preparing food
- After using the bathroom
- When hands are visibly dirty (use soap and water in this instance not alcohol-based hand rub)
- After handling animals or animal waste
Staff are also advised to cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing and then to dispose of the tissue immediately into a bin with a lid on it. Hands should then be cleaned thoroughly.
The WHO guidelines also recommend that staff maintain a distance of 1 metre (3 feet) apart when interacting with each other to avoid the transfer of germs especially if someone sneezes, as small droplets released by the sneeze can be breathed in which is how the virus can spread from human to human.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as if your hands are contaminated by touching a surface infected with the virus then you risk transferring it to yourself.
Finally, if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing then seek medical advice straightaway and tell your health care provider if you have visited a region known to have the coronavirus. It may not mean that you have become infected with it as there could be lots of other reasons why you are feeling ill but the earlier you seek treatment, the better the chances you have of making a full recovery.
The health and safety of all employees are one of the top priorities of the company. Thus, precautions, awareness, and advisories to prevent the spread of Coronavirus shall be regularly implemented across offices until the outbreak subsides.