The escalating monkeypox outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to go to its highest warning level and declare the virus a public health emergency of global concern. As states of emergencies seem like an everyday activity in recent days, seafarers worldwide are bracing for the possibility of further inconveniences from port states.
The initial state of emergency was put into place a few weeks ago by the United Nations (UN); over these passing weeks, the amount of infections has increased dramatically. Although the committee couldn’t decide whether a state of emergency should be issued, the responsibility fell to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to issue the highest possible alert.
Many seafarers’ minds were and are returning to when the pandemic grew a global concern. Following the coronavirus outbreak, several port governments prohibited crew changes, forcing hundreds of thousands of seafarers to work beyond their contracts. As the world deals with monkeypox, shipping executives have warned policymakers to avoid making impulsive decisions.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since May. In response to the spread of monkeypox at the end of May, Bangladesh became the first government to formally adopt seafarer restrictions, as other Asian countries are considering implementing similar labor laws.
As seafarers continue to travel from port to port, they’re not only working to work; they’re working with the possibility of an outbreak at any time. If labor laws fall short again, it seems that an overworked, crowded, and hot vessel could be the perfect host for a storm as wild as the Monkeypox Virus.