Infectious or contagious diseases

Infectious or contagious diseases


International travel and health

Latest WHO advice for international travel and trade in relation to the outbreak of diseases affecting the relevant countries.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A new virus has been identified on 7 January 2020 by the Chinese authorities. This new virus, temporarily named "2019-nCoV" is a coronavirus, a family of viruses that includes the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. WHO has been alerted by the Chinese authorities on 31 December 2019 over several cases of pneumonia that occurred in Wuhan City, Hubei province of China. Because this is a coronavirus that can cause respiratory illnesses and is relatively unknown pending investigation to be undertaken to understand the source of this new virus, please click on this link for precautionary measures to be taken for international travel and trade.

Important COVID-19 information

ICS guidance

International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers 

Zika virus

On 8 February 2016 the IMO issued Circular Letter No.3623 providing guidance on the Zika situation report issued by the WHO.

As of 8 February 2016, the Emergency Committee (EC), convened by WHO's Director-General, under the International Health Regulations (2005), has found no justification for restrictions on travel or trade.

Further updates will be provided as and when received from the EC.

For further information please refer to the below links:

The UK P&I Club has produced a dedicated resource page, providing the latest information and guidance for shipowners and crew travelling to and from areas with known outbreak. Although the World Health Organisation is not currently recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to Zika virus some port authorities are requiring additional information for vessels and crew arriving from locations where a known outbreak of Zika is occurring.

The Club will continue to monitor the situation and collate all the latest information on the topic and any implications this may have for shipowners on the resource page - UK P&I Club - Zika Virus - Key Facts.

Ebola virus

The IMO has issued several circular letters providing guidance and information on protection measures for ships visiting ports affected by the Ebola virus disease. See related links below.

The IMO also together with the World health Organization (WHO) issued a letter to Ministers responsible for ports and shipping underlining the need to exercise caution and competent judgement before implementing any unilateral measures restricting the movement of ships and cargoes in September 2014. In short the letter re-iterates that the World Health Orgainisation does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade and that restrictive measures which are not commensurate and restricted to public health risks could be counter productive.

Local Agents should of course be requested for updates regarding the latest information and any local rules or precautions to be taken.


On 9 october 2017, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued Circular Letter No. 3780 providing guidance on the plague outbreak situation as issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). For specific information on this plague outbreak, please refer to the relevant WHO link here. The IMO has urged that the WHO handbook publication on "Management of Public Health Events on board ships", offering substantive public health guidance be consulted in connection with this disease outbreak. 

Infectious or Contagious Diseases Clauses

Members should note that BIMCO has two clauses (see below) that address contractual issues in relation to severe cases of virulent diseases, such as Ebola. The implications for shipowners and operators due to such outbreaks can be significant. Delays may occur and costs arise not only when the ship is in an area where the risk of infection is high, but also at a later date when the ship calls at ports far outside the region where restrictions may be imposed to reduce the risk of the disease spreading. In this respect, no clause can solve all the problems that may arise due to certain countries imposing restrictions or sanctions on ships which have previously called at certain West African countries - even if the intervening period is well outside the known incubation period of the disease. Members are highly recommended to check what impositions certain ports may put in place for ships that have called at West African ports even if many months have lapsed and other ports have been called at since then.

The Infectious or Contagious Diseases Clauses for Voyage and Time Charter Parties have been developed for use in response to any severe outbreak of a virulent disease. The decision to take a generic clause approach to the Ebola outbreak reflects BIMCO's view that there have been a number of virulent diseases, such as SARS, that have also had a significant impact on the industry in the past and that it is likely that other severe virulent diseases may well occur in the future. The generic solution offered by BIMCO avoids having to write specific clauses to address individual outbreaks each time they occur.


Download RELATED Documents

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    Zika Virus Disease (IMO Circular Letter No. 3623 dated 8 February 2016) 0.7 MB

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    Personal protective equipment - Ebola virus disease (IMO Circular Letter No. 3497 dated 7 November 2014) 0.2 MB

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    Letter to ministers responsible for ports and shipping; port authorities and shipping companies issued jointly by IMO and WHO dated 10 September 2014 0.1 MB

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    Full and effective implementation of maritime security measures to assist in preventing the spread of the Ebola virus disease (IMO Circular Letter No. 3485 dated 10 September 2014) 0 MB

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  • Download Icon

    Ebola virus disease - information and guidance (IMO Circular Letter No. 3484 dated 2 September 2014) 0.2 MB

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Ai Cheng Foo-Nielsen
in Copenhagen, DK

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