Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/023/20
3rd February 2020

The Secretary

Dear Colleague


RMT members may have concerns about coming into contact with the coronavirus which has originated in Wuhan, China. The major source of advice in this regard is published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which can be accessed at:


RMT believes that the UK Government and individual employers have a responsibility to implement all measures available to them to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. The control of the spread of the virus in transport industries is critical for all RMT members who may come into contact with people who may be carriers of the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

WHO advice is simple and commonsense:

• Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
• When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands;
• Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
• If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
• Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough;
• Stay at home if you are sick;

Advice for RMT maritime industry members:

All general advice is applicable to RMT members in the maritime sector however more specific advice for RMT members working in the maritime sector has been issued by the International Maritime Health Association:


Specific advice for RMT maritime members is as follows:

• Do not restrict embarkation /disembarkation of seafarers in non-affected ports
• Do not restrict necessary ship visits by port agents, chaplains, service personnel and others.
• Do not visit food markets in China. Avoid provision of fish and poultry in China.
• Do not consume raw eggs, milk, meat.
• For galley: Observe strict food hygiene to avoid cross contamination
• Store facial protection for all crew (5 pieces /per person)
• Provide influenza vaccination, alcohol-based hand rub and facial protection to ship inspector and other company employees who travel to China.
• If a person on board falls sick AND has been travelling to affected areas 2-12 days before embarkation, the person must stay in his cabin. Consult a Medical Doctor in the next port.
• If a sick person is on board of the ship, fill the Maritime declaration of health and notify port authority.

It should be borne in mind that the risks of contact with exposed individuals remain very low and the chances of developing a coronavirus illness also remains low. The simple precautions outlined here should be sufficient to protect you.

If this advice is amended or updated, we will advise members in the usual way. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary