Foreign crew medical care & crew changes

05 Oct 2020 / Shanghai, China

On Saturday (3 October), the Shanghai Government has issued new regulations medical care and crew changes involving foreign crew members.

During coronavirus outbreaks, the treatment of crew injury or sickness onboard a ship in Shanghai waters area is put in the ship search & rescue system (MSA). If the crew member needs treatment onshore, the company should report to the MSA. Upon receipt of the rescue aid request, the nearest customs, immigration and health authorities will be involved.

If the crew’s condition is not life-threatening, in principle, the customs shall complete the inspection and sampling on the ship, and after the test results are issued the shipping company will transports them to the related medical hospital by isolation ambulance.

In case of life-threatening conditions requiring urgent medical treatment, customs may conduct investigation and sampling on the ship, and the shipping company shall immediately transfer the sick/injured crew member to the hospital designated by the health department for medical treatment by isolation ambulance. If the customs does not take samples on board in case of emergency, the health department may arrange for joint sampling and joint testing, and further treatment measures shall be taken according to the test results.

Remote health guidance may be given to crew members who can be treated onboard.

For signing on/off od sick or injured crew, the shipping company shall arrange the transfer vehicles in advance. In principle, the crew members should return to the ship in time after the completion of medical treatment. If the crew members cannot do so, for Chinese crew to go home, the local epidemic prevention and control department of the hospital with work with the transportation, economic information and agriculture & rural departments to implement 14 days’ quarantine.

For foreign crew to leave China, the shipping company should prepare a transferring exit plan and report to the immigration, customs, MSA and health departments and, according to the type of ship, report to the transportation, economic information and agriculture & rural departments. They should arrange transportation and flight to transfer the foreign crew directly from the hospital to the exit airport. If necessary to wait for transit flights, a closed isolated point will be arrange for them to await for the transfer flight. If it is truly difficult to arrange flight, and the time off ship is more than 14 days, if the nucleic acid test result is negative, the shipping company may arrange other suitable places for crew to rest and wait for the transfer flight.

In cases of
- confirmed case of pneumonia from a novel coronavirus
- suspected pneumonia from a novel coronavirus
- fever that may be infected with pneumonia from a novel coronavirus
- close contact of the confirmed patient
customs must test for all the ship’s crew. If necessary, the MSA and health, customs, immigration, information, communications and agriculture & rural departments will deal with the ship and its remaining crew members.

If the time since departure last foreign port is more than 14 days, with no crew change within 14 days before arriving in China, foreign crew that need to sign-off due to the expiration/termination of contract and for humanitarian reasons, shipping companies should make a crew change plan in advance. This should include crew list, nationality, passport number, rank, the ship name, health condition, protection measures, the time of sign off at this port, sign off crew destination, flight information, means of transportation, contacts and other basic information, and an emergency plan. Exit flights and transfer vehicles must be booked advance.

The crew change plan shall be submitted to the municipal leading Group office of Epidemic Situation, and the plan may be copied and submitted to the port authority at the same time. After approval, the shipping company should declare to the port authorities to deal with relevant formalities, guide the crew to strengthen personal protection, and check crew temperature at least twice daily. Signing-off crew should fill in a health record and sign to confirm it is true, signed by the master. The master's health record should verified by chief officer or other officer.

The shipping company should report to the port authority the crew health information 48 hours before arrival. If there is any abnormal health information, the port authority should inform related departments in time, inform the pilot station and the port enterprise, and immediately report to the Maritime Department of the Ministry of Transportation.

Upon arrival at the port, customs will inspect the ship. If the ship condition is normal and the nucleic acid test is negative, customs will inform immigration, immigration will carry out ship entry and exit formalities. Signing-off foreign crew should go to international airport directly without stay in the city. Shipping companies to arrange car (not on public transportation) directly from the ship to the airport. The ship must wait at port or anchorage until the international flight departs.

If a ship has a tight schedule, with the approval of the Municipal Leading Group Office of Epidemic Prevention and Control, the vessel may leave the port after crew have disembarked, and the shipping company shall transfer the foreign sing-off crew to an isolation place to wait for the suitable international flight, according to the relevant requirements of the sick foreign crew. If the nucleic acid test report for foreign crew is required for inbound or outbound flights, the shipping company shall contact a qualified testing institution.

If foreign crew need to enter China and sign on the ship in Shanghai, the shipping company shall make above said plan in advance and submit application to the foreign affairs office of the municipal Government through the MUNICIPAL Communications Commission. If the conditions are met, an invitation letter will be issued for the foreign crew, Chinese embassy/consulate will issue visa for the sign-on crew.

The shipping company shall verify and confirm the crew is on good health condition in 14 days before crew join ship.

The company must urge the crew to take personal protection and check their body temperature at least twice a day. The crew should carefully fill in the health record and sign for the truth, the shipping company shall double check and stamp. After arriving on the flight to Shanghai and entry quarantine inspection is normal, the shipping company/agent will transfer the crew from the centralized isolation/test place to ship directly by closed vehicle (not public transportation).

For ships that need to stay at Shanghai for more than 14 days, if customs inspection is normal condition and crew nucleic acid test results are negative, the immigration department will carry out formalities and crew can be allowed to go shore for temporary rest.

For crew members from Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland, or foreign crew members holding exit and entry documents within the scope of the mutual visa exemption agreement with China, if the vessel departed the last foreign port more than 14 days previously with no crew changes within 14 days before arrival, with no abnormality in customs quarantine and nucleic acid test results are negative, the immigration department will carry out formalities for crew to on/off ship.

Crew can allow to go shore for temporary rest; the crew is limited to visit around inside the district where the ship is.

For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in Shanghai, contact GAC China at [email protected]

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