Illness claims in 2020 up by a third, says Gard

Illness claims at Gard rose by a third in 2020, with Covid-19 accounting for almost half of them, the marine insurer has said in an article on how to prevent Covid-19 onboard.

“During the last month, we and other P&I clubs have seen record numbers of Covid-19 outbreaks and infections onboard ships. For the first time, we see outbreaks onboard infecting most of the crew, with the majority suffering symptoms, which can result in serious operational issues”, Gard said.

Gard said that ships earlier on in the pandemic typically had one seafarer testing positive for Covid-19, who was isolated on board, unless they needed medical treatment. “Now we see entire ships being isolated because most of the crew are infected.”

The insurer said that, while this worrying trend was most likely related to an increase in the proportion of cases from coronavirus variants with potentially increased transmissibility, it stressed that human behaviour was also important.

Limiting the spread of the virus through compliance with proven health measures gave the virus fewer chances to change, and reduced the spread of more dangerous variants, if they occurred.

According to the WHO’s Covid-19 weekly epidemiological update of May 11th more than 5.5m new cases and 90 000 deaths were recorded globally last week. Case and death incidence remained at the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic. While the new weekly cases in the regions of Europe and Eastern Mediterranean decreased last week, the South-East Asia Region continued an upward trajectory for the ninth straight week, and reported a further 6% increase in new cases last week.

Gard said that the WHO’s sad statistic was reflected in the number of Covid-19 outbreaks reported to the insurer. “Despite ship operators’ and seafarers’ best efforts to ensure safe crew changes and implementation of onboard protective measures, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases where crewmembers are infected with Covid-19”, the insurer said.