Fears for mental health of 1000s of seafarers stranded on ships due to Covid-19
The idea of 'cabin fever' is something that many South Africans will relate to after months of being in lockdown, but it's literally the lived reality for many thousands of seafarers stranded on ships since the coronavirus crisis began.
It's estimated that around 200 000 workers on cruise liners and cargo ships are living in limbo, unable to disembark and return to their families on _terra firma _due to restrictions imposed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United Nations is warning that the situation is a growing humanitarian crisis responsible for several suicides.
Many workers have been stranded at sea for months after their shifts were due to come to an end.
Lester Kiewit spoke to Sobantu Tilayi, acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority.
We have not, until now, allowed foreign nationals to be disembarked which is a big issue...Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO - South African Maritime Safety Authority
You need those citizens coming off after a time period otherwise then you get into a set of other physiological problems for those people who are trapped on board.Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO - South African Maritime Safety Authority
We are allowing 100% South African citizens to come back to the country, subject to a protocol that requires them to be isolated and all the other health department protocol.Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO - South African Maritime Safety Authority
Tilayi says there are exceptional circumstances when a seafarer may be allowed to disembark from a vessel:
There's a protocol you call medical evacuation, that is an international requirement and that has never been put on hold.Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO - South African Maritime Safety Authority
In fact, we've disembarked more than 200 people from ships on international voyages for medical reasons.Sobantu Tilayi, Acting CEO - South African Maritime Safety Authority
Click below to listen to the full interview:
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