Maritime body wants sailors to get COVID-19 vaccines

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Việt Nam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre’s personnel in full protective gears transport an ill Filipino crewmember on a Greek freight ship to be treated at Khánh Hoà Province General Hospital on February 2, 2021. — VNA/VNS Photo Phan Sáu

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has proposed the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) consider the issuance of regulations on prioritising COVID-19 vaccinations for sailors regardless of their nationalities, thus minimising the risk of the virus spreading among the group.

The proposal was put forth in a letter from Nguyễn Xuân Sang, Director of the Việt Nam Maritime Administration and Deputy Secretary-General of the IMO Việt Nam, to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

In the letter, Sang expressed his support for the message of the IMO Secretary-General to sailors, which stated sailors and maritime staff are key forces in providing necessary services.

Sang wrote that amid the complex developments of the pandemic, it is crucial for governments of IMO member countries to issue policies to include maritime workers in their prioritised lists for COVID-19 vaccinations, in addition to vaccinating sailors and maritime workers of vessels docking at ports under their management.

Agreeing with Sang’s proposal, the IMO Secretary-General suggested the official put the proposal into discussion during the 103rd meeting of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee which is slated for May 5.

Lim said the IMO was working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to call on governments to prioritise sailors in their COVID-19 vaccination programmes, thus creating optimal conditions for safe travel across borders.

A joint statement was being drafted by UN agencies, which would be issued soon, he added.

Lim said the IMO would create optimal conditions for discussions with its member countries and representatives of the maritime sector’s representatives as well as UN agencies and relevant parties to build a vaccination co-ordination strategy.

Meanwhile, sailors, maritime enterprises and maritime transport associations have submitted requests to authorised agencies, asking to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations for sailors working on cargo vessels.

According to the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, search and rescue activities have been maintained round-the-clock since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, despite the high risks, especially in cases involving foreign sailors.

Leaders of the centre have proposed that the Government and authorised agencies put maritime rescuers into the prioritised list in the COVID-19 vaccination scheme to help maintain the operations of the force in Việt Nam’s sea territories. — VNS

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