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Covid-19 strikes MSC Flavia crew

Nearly half the crew manning the 12,400TEU MSC Flavia have tested positive for Covid-19 in Ningbo, China.

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong announced on 30 June that 11 of the ship’s 24 crew members were found to have the contagious and potentially fatal respiratory disease after the vessel neared Ningbo on 26 June.

CHP, a unit of Hong Kong’s Department of Health, said that nine of the infected seafarers had boarded the 2012-built MSC Flavia in Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Terminal on 24 June. Before arriving in Hong Kong, the vessel was in Yokohama, Xiamen and Shenzhen (Chiwan Container Terminal).

MSC Flavia is deployed on the Asia-South America service and vessel-tracking data shows it is now anchored around Meishan, a sub-port of Ningbo-Zhoushan.

Six of the crew who boarded in Hong Kong had arrived from Indonesia, Greece and Croatia from 21 to 23 June, and were asymptomatic at the time. As the Hong Kong government had heeded the shipping industry’s growing call to allow crew changes, the seafarers were neither tested nor quarantined after arriving in Hong Kong.

Covid-19 tests were conducted after two of the 11 crew members developed a fever on arriving in Ningbo. The other nine infected seafarers were asymptomatic but were tested as they were all in close physical contact.

CHP said that MSC had arranged for them to stay in Dorsett Tsuen Wan Hotel before they boarded the ship. The centre said that it is in touch with local health authorities in Ningbo to find out more about the situation.

Following the initial outbreak in China, MSC shared health and hygiene information throughout its global workforce at sea and on shore, with a combination of global instructions and guidelines, and advice to adapt guidance for local considerations.

This included steps to maintain personal hygiene and reduce the risk of transmission of illness, based on WHO guidelines. These were explained via internal communications channels such as email and intranet, as well as through the global distribution of posters to remind employees to wash their hands regularly and avoiding close personal contact.

In response to questions from Container News an MSC spokeswoman said, "We make sure we observe guidance and instructions from local authorities in relation to vessel and cargo operations wherever we operate."

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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