Where do vessels call after leaving Ebola-hit West African ports?

Lloyd’s List Intelligence data reveals which states may be most exposed to seaborne spread of the disease

SPAIN and the US, the only two countries whose citizens have contracted Ebola outside West Africa, are also among the nations most exposed to any shipborne spread of the disease, according to data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

However, the International Maritime Organization, backed by the World Health Organisation, has called on shipping companies to maintain calls to West Africa to deliver lifesaving supplies and equipment.

To date, cases of Ebola contracted outside West Africa have been limited to health workers caring for patients who picked up the virus in Africa.

Nevertheless, there is increasing concern that Ebola will spread as people contract the virus in affected areas then travel overseas.

To date, the emphasis has been on scanning airline passengers at airports receiving flights from Ebola-affected countries.

The threat of exposure to the virus by seaborne transmission has been less well documented.

Now, however, Lloyd’s List Intelligence has produced data to show where vessels that have called at ports in Ebola-hit countries in West Africa have sailed afterwards.

Vessel calls

Between August 1 and October13, 364 vessels called at ports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

These vessels went on to make 397 port calls outside these countries.

The largest number of calls during this period involved mainland Spain, whose ports handled 42 calls by 37 of these vessels.


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 Reflecting regional trading patterns, the next two most-visited places were the Canary Islands and Morocco, each handling some 30 calls.

Then came calls to the major northern European hubs, particularly to Germany, which handled 22 calls from 21 vessels.

The US, which has imposed the tightest entry conditions on flights from the Ebola-affected region, received 16 calls from 16 vessels during the period.


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 So far, there are no reports of any seafarers contracting Ebola.

Nevertheless, shipping lines, crewing agencies and maritime authorities are beginning to offer guidance and to impose restrictions on vessels that have called in affected countries.

Together, the World Health Organisation and the International Maritime Organization have written to shipping ministers, port authorities and shipping companies to say that the WHO does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade.

Instead, the two bodies have insisted that keeping open lines of communication is paramount — people in West Africa are dying unnecessarily due to delayed deliveries of lifesaving equipment and supplies.


To enlarge or download this graphic please click here

 Measuring risk

The letter, dated October 10 and seen by Lloyd’s List, says that any existing or future measures adopted to restrict the movement of ships and cargoes must be commensurate with the public health risk.

Restrictions in place to date apply mainly to vessels calling at ports in West Africa, having previously called in Ebola-affected countries.

However, there are reports that Argentina has restricted pilots from joining vessels that have arrived from affected countries.


Visit Lloyd’s List’s Ebola topic page.

 Ireland and the US require declarations from the vessel’s master prior to arrival if anyone on board is showing Ebola symptoms.

Gibraltar has imposed a 21-day quarantine on vessels calling from any country affected by Ebola.


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Source and Credits: Lloyd’s List

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