Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Harnessing the Environment of Maritime Transport and Port Logistics Sector in the Management of Covid-19 Pandemic

Written By

Theophilus Chinonyerem Nwokedi

Submitted: 10 November 2021 Reviewed: 11 November 2021 Published: 28 February 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.101587

From the Edited Volume

Logistics Engineering

Edited by Samson Jerold Samuel Chelladurai, Suresh Mayilswamy, S. Gnanasekaran and Ramakrishnan Thirumalaisamy

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The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic led to huge loss of human and material Capital and adversely affected the economies of nations. The fight against the spread has been serious and strategically coordinated and implemented across major Countries; but exposure to its spread has continued to raise fears about the possibility of achieving total eradication. Public health experts opine that the disease may not totally go away soon, and as such, society should learn to live with it as the new normal. The study thus evaluated the influence of harnessing the built environment of maritime transport and logistics sector in the management of exposure to spread of the disease. It identified the various components of the built environment types in the maritime transport sub-sector that represent potential nodes of maritime workers exposure to the spread of Covid-19 as well as the Covid-19 infective pathways in the maritime sub-sector and analyzed the risk of exposure each infective pathway and node poses to the exposure to Covid-19 spread. It also identified and analyzed the risk management approaches to be employed in limiting exposure to the disease in the maritime and port logistics sector in Nigeria.


  • built-environment
  • maritime-transport
  • port-logistics
  • spread
  • Covid-19

1. Introduction

1.1 Overview of the role of built environment of maritime transport and port sector in management of Covid-19 pandemic

The environment is defined as the ecosystem, habitat and/or living place of any organism. It is the totality of the surroundings and all the content of the surroundings in which an organism lives including the natural forces and other species of livings things that create interdependency relationships for the organism’s development and growth. The environments of an organism thus have or should be made to have inherent capacity to shield and protect it from the danger of injury, health-hazard, damage and/or death from unnatural causes. Man over the ages have artificially harnessed and made habitable for himself environments that were initially considered unfavorable for human habitation by the use of technology. One such example is the marine environment, sea and/or offshore locations which were natural habitats for aquatic organism and other marine species. The exploration and exploitation of the resources of the marine environment over the years has led to the development of ships and marine structures of many kinds that support human adaptation and living in the marine environment in the course of his occupation. The same can be said for the urban and city centers of today which were initially natural forests turned built cities and urban centers by the entrepreneurial activities of humans. Thus we view the concept of the built environment as a concept that encompasses artificially made structures, platforms, buildings; urban, suburban and rural settlements and the relative facilities that accommodate humans to live, work and carry-out diverse socio-economic, political and all forms of human activities that are necessary for and support collective human existence [1]. It therefore behooves on human operators to ensure that the built environment have capacity to maximize the protection of humans inhabitants from the danger of injury, health hazards, damage, and death from unnatural causes. This may be achieved by employing various means and strategies, but mostly the planned management approach which ensures that outcomes remain in line with behavioral objectives. According to Roof and Oleru [2], the concept of built environment is not limited to urban and suburban housing settlements that provide shelter for times spent indoor, it equally encompasses shelter for times spent at work related environment as more than 5% of average North American’s workers time is spend in car.

In the Nigeria maritime industry for example, navigators and seamen live in ships and offshore structures for as long as 3 months before the next change of crew while dock workers and terminal operators spend consecutive 8 h work period each day in the seaports and terminal infrastructures in Nigeria. Thus ships, the seaport infrastructures, the terminals, the offshore structures etc. form the built environment of the maritime transport and ports industry in Nigeria whose capacity to provide protection to the inhabitants and users, cum shore-based stakeholders and/or contribute to programmes and schemes aimed at eliminating and curtailing the spread of life threatening infections, like the current Covid-19 pandemic must be enhanced.

The environment of maritime transport and port logistics sector is therefore, viewed as the totality of the maritime ecosystem including the sea, the coastal water zones, the inland water transport (IWT) zones, upon and/or in which the cargo ships, offshore floating and fixed productions, storage and offloading (FPSO) systems, fishing vessels, cruise ships, barges, river crafts, dredgers, seaports and Inland River ports, marine terminals, shipyards and docks, etc. as built maritime transport and ocean exploitation support structures, that accommodate maritime workers; that harness the ships and watercrafts for waterborne transport and other related operations. For purposes of developing models to enable the maritime sub-sector successful manage the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic; we summarized the built environment of maritime transport system that must be involved in the successful management of the exposure to and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Summary of the built environment of maritime transport showing the hierarchy of relationships. Source: Prepared by Nwokedi [3].

Figure 1 presents the built environment of the maritime transport system, indicating the various ships, port infrastructure and shore based maritime structures accommodating human activity types in the maritime industry while also interacting with, affecting and impacting on activities, operations, process and life in the various urban, suburban and rural land based settlements. They protection of the inhabitants of the above environment of maritime transport and the urban, suburban and rural land based settlements is the motivation for harnessing the maritime and port logistics industry against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic [4]. Any management model or strategy that did not holistically involve the identified components of the environment of maritime transport, may not succeed, as the un-captured/uninvolved component or sub-system may end up re-infecting the entire maritime transport system, and subsequently, the land based urban and suburban settlements.

The China Country office of the World Health Organization [5] in Wuhan City was the first to identify in humans and report a novel type of corona virus disease in December 2019 which was afterwards officially referred to as the Covid-19. The Covid-19 disease spread geometrically with large numbers of confirmed cases in many parts of World within a very short time causing it to be characterized as a global pandemic. Since the Covid-19 disease is currently determined not to be an airborne disease, humans are determined to be the commonest direct agent of its spread among human populations and objects in the built environments and human settlements. By implication, transports infrastructures (maritime transport, air transport, road, rail, etc.) remains the major means of the transmission of the disease across international borders and among local populations. Consequently, the built environment of the maritime transport and shipping sector like other transport modes constitute potential and real major agents of spread of the virus; following which entire built environments of maritime transport must develop proactive instruments and strategies for managing the environment as identified above to curtail the spread the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nallon [6] notes the importance of quarantining ships for 14 days before enter the destination port following the first confirmed case of coid-19 disease onboard a container ship Gjertrud Maersk. The report notes that quarantining vessels will impact global seaborne trade negatively, that however is in line with management guidelines needed to ensure most importantly that the transmission and spread of the disease through the entire maritime industry to land based settlements environments is prevented and/or curtailed. Developing Covid-19 transmission and infection likelihood/risk model based on empirical evidences of the spread of the disease for seaports in Nigeria and ships calling to the ports as well as a framework and action plan for the entire maritime transport environment for the management and prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria constitute the central aim of the study.

1.2 Covid-19 transmission modes and implications for management of the environment of maritime transport and ports

The Nigerian center for infectious disease control [7, 8] identified two major modes of transmission of Covid-19 disease to include:

  1. Direct transmission: This involves human-to-human direct transmission which results when infected person comes in contact within about 6 feet with other people, respiratory droplets from the nose produced by sneezing, droplets from the mouth during speech, may drop on objects or be inhaled into the lungs by unprotected close-by persons leading to infection [7, 8]. The Bangladesh Maritime Authority gave a pictograph summary of direct human-human transmission as shown in Figure 2.

  2. Indirect Transmission: This involves objects-to-human transmission. Indirect transmission or object-to-human transmission occurs when humans come in contact with infected objects. Infected objects in this case are objects contaminated by droplets from noses and mouth of infected individuals in the course of sneezing and talking (Figure 3).

Figure 2.

Direct (person-to-person) transmission of Covid-19. Source: Bangladesh Maritime Authority [9].

Figure 3.

Indirect (object-to-person) transmission of Covid-19. Source: Adapted from Bangladesh Maritime Authority [9].

The implication of this in the management of Covid-19 in the maritime environment is that the mode specific transmission mean/routes must be identified and barriers/shields built against it these transmission means and routes of transmission. The transmission barriers and/or shields takes the forms of regulatory instruments aimed at regulating the behavior of operators and manners of operations and use of equipment to yield expected outcomes. The expected outcomes being to break the transmission curve and achieve a Covid-19 free maritime environment and society. Implementing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and developing policies that limit risky behavior is also important. While the practice of 14 days quarantining cum isolation and treated of confirm cases in line WHO [5] guidelines will apply to human agents (seafarers and maritime workers), massive disinfection of non-human agents (cargo, ship surfaces, superstructures, equipment, etc.) is applied in management and treatment of such non-human agent. But since it is impossible to determine which non-human agents are already contaminated with the virus, risk assessment based on ship exposure to ports in regions with confirmed cases becomes necessary such that all such objects and ships identified as having visited a high risk region is mandatorily quarantined and disinfected before being allowed access to seaports. Based on the very nature of ship movements and the structure of the maritime industry operations, we identified Covid-19 transmission routes in the maritime industry for purposes of developing transmission barriers as a management strategy as follows;

  1. External transmission routes: This is the transmission and infection of healthy ship and/or the occupant seafarers and objects onboard by parties external to the ship at any given point in time. It equally denotes a situation where an infected ships or crew transmits and infects healthy ports, settlements and other healthy ships with which it had contact. See Figure 4 for a pictograph example of external route/channel Covid-19 transmission routes in the maritime industry.

    Major types of external Covid-19 transmission routes in the maritime industry include:

    1. Ship-to-shore (port)-transmission (inclusive of direct or indirect transmission)

    2. Port (shore)-ship-transmission (inclusive of direct or indirect transmission)

    3. Ship-to-ship-transmission (inclusive of direct indirect transmission)

    4. Direct and indirect Urban and suburban human settlements-port-transmission (city and sub-city settlements-to-port-transmission).

  2. Internal transmission routes: This is the internal transmission and infection of healthy persons and objects within the same vessel or ports by individuals who are already carriers of the viral disease. For example, within a given seaport, an infected dockworker in the customs base may spread and infect the entire seaport community as shown in Figure 1, within a custom base, an infected officer will transmit and infects healthy colleagues which may lead to a situation of community infection, etc. see Figure 5:

Figure 4.

Pictograph showing external Covid-19 transmission routes/channels in the maritime industry. Source: Nwokedi [3]. Note: The direction of the arrows is reversed in the case that an infected ship is transmitting and infecting healthy ports, urban settlements and other healthy ships.

Figure 5.

Source: Nwokedi [3]. Note: The direction of the arrows indicating the direction of transmission is reversed in the case that an infected sub component of the seaport system is transmitting and infecting healthy port authority staff and other healthy sub-components of the port as identified in Figure 1.

Major types of internal Covid-19 transmission routes in the maritime industry include:

  1. Internal ship-based-person-to-person-transmission onboard,

  2. Internal ship-based object-to-human-transmission (within the same ship)

  3. Internal Port-based human-to-human-transmission within the seaport and all the shipping companies, trucking units, etc. within the seaport.

  4. Internal shore-based object-to-human transmission.

Identifying clearly the transmission routes in the maritime industry enables route specific Covid-19 transmission and exposure risk analysis to be carried-out and the likelihood/probability of transmission of and exposure to Covid-19 determined for both external and internal routes. All routes may thus be presented in term of the hierarchy of the probability transmission and exposure risks to guide operations and operators in the industry. For indirect transmission, disinfection by use of approved sanitizing agents in line with WHO guideline can be carried prioritizing high risk routes. Quarantining seafarers and other industry personnel from high risk areas for 14 day and isolation of confirmed cased followed by treatment in line with WHO guidelines is adopted in managing direct human to human transmissions. As can be seen both the external and internal routes of Covid-19 transmission and infection spread in the maritime industry revolve around object transmission and human transmission. This suggests that among other things, high risk transmission and infection routes should prioritized in the serious implementation of the guidelines for the management of both direct and indirect transmission in the maritime transport sub-sector in Nigeria. The development of a framework for the management and control of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Nigerian environment of maritime transport will considered in the subsequent sections of the chapter.

The identified external and internal routes/channels of transmission among the built environment of the maritime transport and shipping sector further suggests a transmission-route specific approaches can be developed involving holistically all the components of the built environment of maritime transport including seaports, ships, shipyards, shipping companies and all the components earlier identified. This should commence with Covid-19 infection risk assessment in which a proximity based model may be used to assess risk of exposure of each port facility, ship, company facility, etc. to risk of Covid-19 infection. Higher level of caution and preventive strategies in line with WHO guidelines will thus be adopted by ships when calling to a port facility with higher risk of infection while ships with higher risk of infection determined by their proximity and duration and frequency of call to high risk ports are quarantined in line with available regulations as they call to healthy ports. To effectively curtail the transmission and spread of Covid-19 disease within the maritime sub-sector and between the maritime environment and residential settlements beyond the maritime environment, there is serious need for each component of the built environment in the maritime sector representing a node and/or point of transmission and infection development node specific strategies in line with general guidelines. This will equally be useful in determining the risk of exposure and infection at each specific node and other interacting nodes. See Figure 6:

Figure 6.

Built environment of maritime transport and non-work residential settlements interaction model depicting Covid-19 transmission and infection nodes as it affects the maritime industry. Source: Nwokedi [3].

Based on the above interaction model above, proactive management approach should be adopted where: At Node-A Seaport authority should:

  1. Port Covid-19 exposure risk assessment (PCRA)

  2. Develop a port Covid-19 prevention plan (PCPP) encompassing action plans to be carried out by all agencies, companies, operators and stakeholders in the port including interaction principles and procedures with residential settlements (individual accessing the ports from residential settlements daily). The plan should be in line with WHO and NCDC general guidelines for control of the spread including but not limited to quarantining, isolation of confirmed cases, social distancing rules, use of face masks, etc.

  3. Appoint port Covid-19 officers and or prevention and management committee with the responsibility of ensuring the implementation of port Covid-19 prevention and management plan. Such officers must work in unison with the port health department.

  4. Determine which components or sections of the seaport pose high risk of transmission and infection of the entire seaport so that appropriate controls are deployed.

  5. Determine what equipment is necessary for the prevention of the spread and provide all such equipment including PPE.

  6. Regulate the implementation of port Covid-19 prevention plan (PCPP) by all stakeholders and ships calling to the port.

  7. Carry-out performance appraisal routinely to ascertain the capacity of the current PCPP in curtailing the spread of the disease within the environment and improve if need be; among others functions.

At Node-B, Port users and other interest groups (e.g.: seafarers and their families, families of dockworkers and agencies personnel in ports, etc.) that interact with the built environment of the maritime transport from residential settlements represent potential transmission agents captured in node-B. To prevent transmission and infection from these groups requires that:

  1. Port authorities, shipping companies, ships and other agencies in the maritime built environment as identified in that model of interaction develop access control programme for all such individual such that only those with serious business in the maritime environment are allowed access.

  2. Provide PPE and implement compulsory use of such by all accessing the facilities from residential settlements.

  3. Disinfect all objects entering the seaport facility and the component nodes of interaction from residential settlements.

  4. Develop policy blueprint on compulsory expected behavoiur pattern (CEBP) for all employees in the maritime sector accessing the built environment of maritime industry (seaports, shipping companies, customs base, truck bays, ships, etc.) from residential settlements in lines with World Health Organization guidelines.

At Node-C, Ships of various kinds calling to seaports and the ship-owners takes responsible of the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 disease. It is expected that each ship must develop strategic action plans aimed at not only avoiding being infected in course of interaction with ports, settlements and other maritime industry stakeholders, but to ensure that the ship, the crew and the objects on board does not transmit and infects healthy ports and residential settlements with the disease. To ensure this, each ship should:

  1. Carry out ship exposure to Covid-19 risk assessment using proximity based model in which the ship assesses its closeness and/or contact with infected port regions.

  2. Develop a ship Covid-19 prevention plan (SCPP) in line with guidelines issued by the WHO and the local port of call including the 14 days quarantining, isolation and Covid-19 management principles.

  3. Develop schedule for routine disinfection of onboard objects and other ship surfaces following visits to ports in high risk regions.

  4. Appoint a ship-based Covid-19 prevention officer as the responsible authority for enforcing the SCPP.

  5. Implement the port specific regulations for ships for the prevention of Covid-19 transmission and infection.

  6. Determine ship equipment requirement including PPE and acquire such.

  7. Determine rules for engagement of external parties to avoid the spread of the disease.

  8. Cary-out routine performance appraisal to evaluate how the SCPP was able to curtail the transmission to and infection of the ship and crew and recommend improvement.

At node-D, shipping companies, custom bases, multimodal transport bays, terminal operators and other stakeholders in the maritime industry have responsible to manage and prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease by implementing the port authority regulations designed for each group of operators as well as company specific prevention rules, in line with the guidelines of the WHO. Each company and agency in this category should:

  1. Carry-out company Covid-19 risk and exposure assessment (CCRA)

  2. Develop company specific Covid-19 prevention plan (CCPP)

  3. Appoint a company based Covid-19 prevention officer responsible for ensuring the implementation of the CCPP.

  4. Achieve the implementation of the PCPP as it affects the company.

  5. Carry-out routine performance appraisal to determine the viability or otherwise of the CCPP; among other duties.

It is important to note the similarity between the approach to Covid-19 prevention in the maritime industry and the international ship and port facility security (ISPS) code implementation approach which outlines the roles of all interacting stakeholders in the security architecture of the maritime industry [10]. Government may thus for an apex organization enforcing and supervising the overall implementation of the Covid-19 prevention rules across the maritime industry through the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the port health (PH) and National center for disease control (NCDC).


2. Relevance and importance of the environment of maritime transport and shipping IN management of the spread of Covid-19

The Nigeria center for disease control [7, 8] notes that the index case of Covid-19 disease in Nigeria was an Italian Citizen who arrived Lagos after being possibly infected the virus in his home Country, Italy. This evidences the roles of the overall transport industry inclusive of the aviation, road, water/maritime transportation, rail, etc. in the spread of the disease and thus formed the overall reason for the ban of international, regional and interstate travels as a combative measure against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since transport facilitates social political and economic interaction between and among diverse geographical locations, residential settlements and work/industrial zones, it has inherent potential to negate the social distancing rules if not deliberately strategized to ensure the observance of social distancing rules. As an industry with capacity to mobilize mass movement of people and goods across spatial locations, the build environment of the maritime transport sector is a major relevant stakeholder in the fight against the transmission and spread of the Covid-19 disease. As such, for the continued operation of this important sector, sector specific cum institution specific, policies, regulations, strategies and guidelines must be developed in line with the general guidelines and rules of the World Health Organization and the Nationals guidelines for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19. The maritime transport industry like the aviation and road transport sub-sectors, similar to the health institutions need to be viewed as front line sectors that are directly affected by the pandemic, directly involved in the spread of the disease from one region to another and to residential settlements. As such, the environment of transport (including maritime transport) is relevantly involved and must play frontline roles in the management of the transmission of Covid-19 in the society. As a core component of the work and/or industrial zone with interactive relations with diverse urban and sub-urban residential settlements, the built environment of maritime transport can significantly contribute in breaking the curve of transmission of the disease to the benefit of society. The relevance and importance of the environment of maritime transport in the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic is better understood by observing the overlapping nature of interaction between and among different forms of built environment consisting of the work/industrial environment, residential environment, social environment, and religious environment as shown in Figure 7. The tick blue areas indicate areas of intersections and union between and among the environments. Thus, it behooves on all environment types to be actively involved in the implementation of the measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. Otherwise, gain made in other environments by strict and active implementation of the guidelines may be eroded be interacting sections such that the overall built environment will be re-infected through one section of the system.

Figure 7.

Spatial interaction model depicting the relevance and importance of the environment of maritime transport and other spatial settlements in the management of Covid-19. Source: Nwokedi [3].


3. Harnessing the environment of maritime logistics sector in the fight against exposure to and spread of Covid-19: evidences from available literature

The novel Covid-19 pandemic is seen to be currently ravaging all aspects of life in global communities; major economic institutions, organizations, industries and sectors. Global and local trend social, political and economic interaction was altered in favor of online and/or virtual interaction following the introduction of social distancing and ban on international and local interstate and regional travels in a build to break the curve of transmission and infection across built environments. In the economic sector for example, major anchors of business development and growth as has been negatively impacted following the lockdown policies of many countries which caused output losses occasioned by production time losses by many businesses. The global transport, logistics and supply chain inclusive of the maritime and shipping logistics sector seem to be worst hit by the pandemic following the lockdown order and ban on international flights and transportation as well as the mandatory closure of seaports by many economies to avert the possibility of infection by ships and shipping crew and airlines from major infected zones of the World. Following the inability of the global community so far to develop a vaccine for the cure, it has becomes imperative that the built environment, encompassing all aspects of the built environment including the environment of maritime transport and shipping must develop industry strategies, policies and regulations in line with the World Health organization (WHO) standard guidelines as preventive ways for managing and curtailing the spread of the Covid-19 disease. This is necessary to ensure that different regions of the global community does not run out of essential goods including drugs and medical equipment and food needed to sustain the fight against the pandemic and to ensure that factories involved in production of essential goods and services such as pharmaceutical companies employing imported raw materials does not shot down. The adverse effects in situation will be enormous. However, to ensure that the opening up of the seaports and the entire maritime sectors including the use of ships for operations, it must be ensured that the industry is regulated with regards to the implementation of developed Covid-19 preventive measures to guard against the infection and re-infection of settlements and society from maritime operations.

Many literatures have emerged in recent times on approaches to combating the spread of the disease in various settlement types including work places and the maritime industry. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Academy [11], Oregon, developed a guide for protecting workplaces against Covid-19 infection. First OSHA [11] identified that the effect of Covid-19 infection in work environment such as maritime industry ranges from sickness, lockdown and exposure-fear induced absenteeism from work leading to output losses; change in patterns of commerce such as decline in consumer interest in certain goods and services as well as interrupted supply and delivery of shipments occasioned by lockdowns and cancelation of orders made from highly infected geographical regions. According to OSHA [11], workplaces must determine and different jobs with high risks of employee exposure to Covid-19 and classify each job according to the degree of exposure it holds for employing doing it. Jobs and operations should be classified as have high, medium or low risks of exposure to Covid-19 while recommendations on approaches to staying safe in each job risk category is provided to workers in line with standard guidelines. The development of an infectious disease preparedness plan is also a necessity for workplaces. Such a plan according to OSHA [11] may address adequately the need for:

  1. Increased rates of worker absenteeism in high risk regions.

  2. Social distancing, adopting work shift strategy where work is staggered for individual work groups to limit the number of persons working at a given period to standard number approved by authorities.

  3. Adopting a remote work strategy where possible so that workers can work remotely from residential settlements.

These among other measures will help to prevent transmission of Covid-19 from work places to residential settlements and vice versa by reducing the risk of exposure to Covid-19.

OSHA [11] developed a hierarchy of control types based on their effectiveness for implementation in organization in the control of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic (Table 1).

Engineering controlAdministrative control and safe work practicesPersonal protective equipment
Isolating workers from sources of Covid-19 infection by the use of technology:
  1. Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.

  2. Digitalization and e-commerce platforms that isolates workers from physical contacts

  3. Use of robots for operation equipment with high risk of infecting human operators, etc.

These include Covid-19 work plan and policy developed by the employers in each work place in line with approved government rules to guide employee behaviors towards Covid-19 prevention outcomes. They include:
  1. Minimizing physical contact among workers

  2. Increasing days of worker absenteeism from work

  3. Developing work shifts strategy by staggering work hours for various categories of workers

  4. Maximizing requirement for employee hygiene, etc.

Correct use of personal protective equipment PPE involves the use of employee protective toolkits during work to reduce the risk of indirect infection from infected objects.
  1. Correct fitting and compulsory use of PPE e.g. facemask, hand glove, etc.

  2. Periodically refitted, as applicable.

  3. PPE should be routine inspected and repaired if faulty and replaced when necessary.

Table 1.

Hierarchy of control types for institutional control of the spread of Covid-19.

Source: Modified from OSHA [11].

In another development, the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh [9] Department of shipping issued instructions to ports and ships on standard practices for managing and controlling the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the maritime and shipping sector in the country for the continued operation of ports and shipping companies. The guidelines require a ship calling to any port in Bangladesh to tender a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) at within 72 h before her arrival at the Port in line with the International Health regulations 2005 and FAL Conventions. The Master shall at the directive of the local Port port Health authorities provide specific information regarding health conditions such as temperature chart, crew and passenger list, current copy of ship sanitation certificate, last 10 ports call list, and list of all passengers and crew with temperatures above 37.5°C to Port Health office by email prior to the arrival of the vessel [9]. According the report, false of MDH’s that does not reflect the factual conditions of health of crew and passengers onboard a ship cause the master and/or the ship agents to be prosecuted as per applicable laws. See Tables 2 and 3 for sample of the content information in the MDH.

NameClass or ratingAgeSexNationalityPort and date joined vesselNature of illnessDate of onset of symptomsReported to a port medical officer?Disposal of case*Drugs, medication or other treatmentsComments

Table 2.

Sample Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH).

Source: Adapted from GPRB [9].


Table 3.

Sample crew/passenger declaration of health form.

Source: Adapted from GPRB [9].

The report emphasized the responsibility of ship masters to educate crew and passengers of the symptoms of Covid-19, which include; (i) fever with temperature above 37.5°C/99.5°F, (ii) runny nose (iii) dry cough (iv) shortness of breath. He should also take responsibility to check the crew and passengers temperature daily, isolate confirmed cases and disinfect common areas, rooms and cabins in the ship before arrival in Ports of Bangladesh. Ports should quarantine for 14 days ships arriving from ports in infected regions following guidelines provided [9].

Passenger and crew health declaration adopt the format of listing the names and national of passengers and crew and their temperature conditions as shown below:

The GPRB [9] recommended further steps to be followed in cleaning and disinfecting ships and surfaces in the seaport to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 disease while assigning specific roles to Port Health organization, port authorities, ship owners, terminal operators, chandlers, immigration and security agencies operating ports in the duty of control and managing the spread of the disease in the Bangladesh maritime sector.

The Nigerian Center for disease Control [7, 8] provided general guidelines for mandatory institutional quarantining of returnees to Nigeria following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though this guideline was not specific for maritime industry, it provided framework for the 14 days quarantining of ship crew members following change of crew in ports to ensure that both the old set of crew to disembark the ship for onward movement to their families in residential settlements and the replacing crew to embark the ship are all proved to be healthy and safe, and as such cannot transmit and infect the respective new locations in residential and work environments with the Covid-19 disease. NCDC [7, 8] notes that individuals will only interact with approved Covid-19 surveillance officers kitted in appropriate PPE routine monitoring duties intended to facilitate the early detection of ill health due to Covid-19 and break the curve of transmission and community infection.

Furthermore, the International Chamber of Shipping [12] took necessary steps to announce guidelines for ensuring safe shipboard interface between ship and shore-based personnel including shipyards. The hierarchy of control developed by the ICS [12] is summarized below:

  1. Elimination of Covid-19 hazards onboard. Example is by automating tasks and working remotely. This is the most effective approach but where it is impossible, the method of reducing the risk of infection can be employed.

  2. Reduce the risk of infection. This can be achieved by be achieved by reducing drastically the number of persons needed to carry-out the job onboard.

  3. Communicate. In a situation where the number of persons to carry-pot the job cannot be reduced and many shore-based personnel and crew must come in contact, early communication to the job-based personnel is required to get them ready on the requirements and needs of the ship and for appropriate action to be taken to ensure the protection of all parties.

  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) both parties must ensure the correct and compulsory use of recommended PPE.

ICS [12] also provided steps necessary to followed by onboard crew to ensure that internal transmission and infection does not occur between and among members of crew.

Dietz et al. [13] also examined the influence of the built environment in reducing the transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic. The study harped on the risk direct and indirect spreading the virus through the built environment including the School, markets, malls hospital, recreation centers, religious worship centers etc. outlining necessary action plan for routine disinfection of objects and control of person-to-person transmission of the disease in the built environment.

Finally, the International Maritime Organization harped on the need for a common framework and protocols for joining ship from ordinary residence in one country via aircraft to ship ship in a seaport in another country as well as a common protocol for leaving a ship and repatriation from a seaport in one country via aircraft to a seafarer’s place of ordinary residence in another country. This was to address the challenges faced by ship-owners in changing crew following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further provisions were issued to coastal states, shipping companies and agents, allied organization by the IMO [14] noting the importance of granting seafarers movement pass and access to travel facilities as provider essential services by national governments.

From foregoing, literature gaps were identified which among other things include the fact many organizations such as the WHO, NCDC, Departments of shipping, ICS, IMO, national governments, etc. have issued rules, recommendations, protocols and guideline for curtailing the spread of the Covid-19 disease in the maritime industry without identifying clearly a responsible organization in the maritime industry with responsible to monitor implementation of the guidelines. A holistic approach has not being followed in developing most of the preventive frameworks suggestive for the maritime industry, for example, the IMO [14] preventive framework centered more on change of crew and the role of government and other organization without considering among other things the transmission and infection of ships by seaports and from interactions with residential settlements. The WHO [5] and NCDC [7, 8] prevention and 14 days quarantining measures were is for generality of all institutions and lacked the consideration of the peculiarity of the maritime industry, thus maritime industry specific measures need to be developed but in conformity with WHO and NCDC guidelines and recommendations. The routes and possible channels of transmission and infection of ships and residential settlements as it affects the maritime industry based in the interactive relationship among stakeholders in the maritime industry and residential settlements which holds potentials to transmit the virus and well possibility of infection need to be developed as basis for assessing the risk of exposure and transmission of the disease so that the various WHO, NCDC, IMO and other industry frameworks, protocols, rules and guidelines for preventive the spread of the Covid-19 disease can be effectively implemented along the routes/channels of transmission. It is the above identified literature and knowledge gaps that the chapter has tried bridge in the earlier sections.


4. Challenges faced in harnessing the built environment for prevention of the spread of Covid-19

It is pertinent to mentioned that it is important to harness and built the capacity of the entire built environment of maritime transport and other modes of transport to contribute to the fight against the transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic until an approved vaccine is developed for the disease. However, there exist a plethora of challenges to fast tracking of the processing and inputs towards improving the capacity of the maritime industry to actualized the dream of limiting the spread of the disease. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Financing the implementation of the preventive measures poses a challenge. Financial limitations and challenges associated with accessing funds needed to overcome the cost implications of implementing the maritime industry general and company specific guidelines for the prevention of the spread of the disease in line with the WHO and NCDC guidelines. This is because the Covid-19 pandemic currently has negatively impacted the economies of most maritime companies and the allied organizations following series of lockdowns over the past months, leading to output losses. Since implementing these preventive guidelines (both general, industry specific and company specific guidelines) requires funds. For example, the cost of acquisition of sanitary wares and engineering designs as guides against the spread of the disease has increased over time. This is in the face of lockdown associated inactivity and output losses in many sectors of the economy. Therefore, financing the implementation of the preventive regulations and guidelines in the environment of maritime transport poses a major challenge particularly for smaller companies and new start ups.

  2. Shift and/or change in work practices may affect productivity levels at least in the short run. So Covid-19 preventive guidelines adopted in managing its spread in the work environment such as the strategy of staggering work hours for different employees in a given firm and redesigning the work environment to conform Covid-19 preventive plans may lead to shift (decline) productivity at least, in the short run. Thus this will influence the decision of what guidelines to fully implement and to what extent by firms.

  3. Implementing the Covid-19 preventive guidelines in the wide maritime industry is important. It will however imply a drastic behavioral change aimed at eliminating risky behavior. This will in turn influence and/or require in change in worker attitude towards and during work which cannot be instant. Thus training and retraining on the best alternatives action plans to prevent the spread of the disease in necessary and the absence of the capacity to train and retrain with the associated patience needed to get employees develop required work non-risky worker behavior is a challenge [15].

  4. Finally, time constraint also poses a challenge since the rate of spread of the pandemic requires immediate action by relevant stakeholders in combating it. Time lag in implementation of for example, engineering designs as recommended by OSHA [11] may increase the spread of the disease within the industry and the interacting settlements and built environment types.


5. Recommendations

  1. From the foregoing, it is obvious that the maritime industry does not constitute solely of ships, port authorities and shipping companies. Therefore frameworks for prevention of Covid-19 transmission solely from the perspectives of the trio cannot sustainably guarantee the safety of the industry and the allied sectors from the disease. All frameworks for the prevention of the transmission in the maritime industry must be holistic enough to encompass all the allied sectors, including but not limited to customs and other government agencies, freight forwarders and multimodal transport operators, ship chandlers, shipyards, and all stakeholders and sub-components of the maritime sub-sector.

  2. All components and sub-components of the maritime industry and operators must commence by first identifying based on their specific model of interaction the likely internal and external routes/channels of spreading the Covid-19 disease within, to and by the organization. Specific company and/or industry regulations and guidelines cum the general standard guidelines can now be implemented following the identified likely channels of transmission in line with WHO and local center for disease control (CDC) guidelines.

  3. Exposure risk assessment should form the first basic task to be carried by all industry stakeholders to determine the level of exposure while standard guidelines can now be subsequently applied.


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Written By

Theophilus Chinonyerem Nwokedi

Submitted: 10 November 2021 Reviewed: 11 November 2021 Published: 28 February 2022