COVID-19 and Sick Crew Members

One of the issues that has arisen as a result of Covid-19 is whether ports should be accepting ships that have cases or suspected cases of Covid-19. 

One on hand, the seafarers and passengers suffering from the disease onboard those ships need help. On the other, the Canadian medical system is already overwhelmed and foreign flagged vessels should look to their own port states for assistance

Halifax recently turned away a car-carrier ( cargo-ship-denied-entry-to-halifax-after-crew-members-show-symptoms-similar-to-covid-19-432416) and there have been several high profile cases involving cruise ships elsewhere in the world. 

The IMO's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Ship Operators For The Protection of the Health of Seafarers provides in clear terms that: 

" is very important for port states to accept all ships (both cargo and passenger) for docking and to disembark suspected cases [of Covid 19]….Port states must ensure that any seafarers onboard ships in their territory who need immediate medical care are given access to medical facilities on shore."

Some ports seem to be following that advice, and some don't. At the end of the day, there is no obligation on Canadian authorities to permit a ship into port so each case will be discretionary. 

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