Then vs. Now: How the Maritime Sector Has & Can Continue to Adapt to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted many industries, forcing them to look in the mirror and evaluate what types of protocols, policies, and equipment that they have in place to safeguard the health of patrons and employees. Two industries that were impacted the most were hospitality and transportation, specifically within the maritime sector.
There is no doubt that the cruise, yacht, and commercial shipping segments have powered through this challenging time by rapidly instilling more healthcare measures onboard, but what exactly have these measures been and will they be sufficient to combat COVID-19 variants in the future?
What Steps Have Been Taken to Ensure Public Health & Safety Onboard?
Keeping in mind that sailing or working onboard a ship or yacht subjects guests and crew to function in close quarters, the maritime sector has taken huge strides in preventing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 onboard.
1. Establishing Public Health Roles Onboard
In regard to the cruise industry, some vessel operators have started to reinforce their medical teams with a Public Health Officer who is responsible for overseeing all COVID-19 safety measures onboard. This role specifically focuses on implementing COVID-19 procedures, working with local port authorities, finding new crew members who have been quarantined, and more.
2. Continuing to Screen for COVID-19
Though a vaccine has been developed and distributed, not everyone has received their dose(s). Cruise ships, yachts, and commercial ships still require screening for guests and crew before embarkation, either conducted on-site or at home. Regular screenings can help reduce the chances of a single positive case and prevent it from transforming into a vessel wide outbreak.
3. Ensuring Ample Amount of Medical Supplies & Updated Equipment
Experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and not having enough or updated medical equipment in place is something that onboard medical facilities have rectified since the start of the pandemic, specifically in the cruise industry. The pre-pandemic order for PPE has doubled in an attempt to prepare for a possible outbreak, as well as the order for biomedical equipment, such as ventilators. Biomedical services, such as equipment maintenance, have also been in demand.
Aside from medical supplies and equipment, cruise ships, yachts, and commercial ships have also gone one step further by implementing preventative measures, such as upgrading their HVAC systems to clean indoor air and surfaces of viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants.
4. Subscribing to Telehealth Solutions
Since yachts and commercial ships don’t have the luxury or space for a medical crew and facility onboard, many have implemented telehealth solutions onboard. With the advancement of technology, crew members can connect with shoreside doctors anywhere, anytime to receive medical advice and treatment when needed.
How Can Maritime Organizations Move Forward?
Vaccines are helping some countries control the pandemic, but it will likely take years before every country has access to an adequate supply of vaccines. This means that the maritime sector will need to continue to address the effects of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.
In addition to encouraging vaccinations, VIKAND recommends abiding by the new public health standard as much as possible as well as researching the latest innovations in COVID-19 prevention and monitoring the trends within your designated maritime segment.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can curb the threat of COVID-19 onboard your ship or yacht, contact our team today to ensure you have all you need to keep those onboard safe and healthy.