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Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks on vessels can be particularly difficult to manage due to:

  • Lack of areas to isolate infected personnel
  • Lack of access to medical equipment and personnel for diagnosis

It can be hard to manage even minor COVID-19 cases with less severe symptoms. 

Often, severe symptoms cannot be managed at sea. Instead, employees on vessels may have to be evacuated to a hospital. This expensive endeavor is made even more complicated by the need for an isolation unit to deal with infectious diseases. 

In short, keeping coronavirus off your vessel in the first place may better for the crew’s health and safety.  

Screening for COVID-19 at Port

Screening for COVID-19 at initial embarkation and crew changes is a good first step. This process includes:

  • Answering questions about potential COVID-19 exposure
  • A temperature check

These steps help you determine whether someone is likely to have COVID-19, but it won’t catch the people who have COVID-19 but no symptoms or known exposures. 

Testing for the presence of the virus itself may be a better way to keep coronavirus out of vessels. 

Testing for Coronavirus

Unlike screening, testing gives a quantitative answer to the question: does this crewmember have coronavirus? 

Tests that look for the presence of the virus or associated proteins are usually the best choice to use in this case. They are often called molecular (since they look at molecules) or PCR (the name of the machine that runs the tests). 

These tests take a few days to get results, but they are usually very accurate. 


While testing all crew members for COVID-19 before embarking seems like a simple solution, it can be complicated. Some complicating factors include:

  • False-negative test results (the results say the person does not have COVID-19 but they do)
  • Isolating crew members to avoid infection
  • Medical regulations regarding patient privacy and employer access to test results

Working with an expert medical company experienced in offshore healthcare, like Remote Medical International, to develop a successful and compliant testing solution will help keep crews healthy during this pandemic. 

Contact us to develop your COVID-19 testing or screening solution today.