India’s COVID crisis hits the global shipping industry hard, says an article on DW.
Covid hits global industries
India is one of the biggest providers of seafarers for the shipping industry. But the nation’s COVID wave has sparked travel curbs and restrictions on Indian crews, sending shipping firms scrambling to find replacements.
Along with the Philippines and China, India is one of the largest suppliers of the crew to the global shipping industry. But a huge surge of COVID-19 infections in the country and a shortage of vaccines have left ship workers high and dry.
Global ports are now slamming doors on Indian crew and vessels. Companies are insisting on vaccinated workers and seafarers, spelling bad news for an already stretched maritime sector.
No vaccines for ‘essential workers’
It’s a situation familiar to thousands of seafarers across India who are unable to get out of the country. On the other hand, shipping authorities have also advised the Indian crew currently at sea to “desist from signing off from the vessel” until the situation improves.
“The main issue is that seafarers have been designated as essential workers, both nationally and in several other countries, which means the government should be giving them vaccinations on priority,” said Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers in India. “But that is not happening in India.”
Fears of fast-spreading COVID variant
Already, ports like the one in Singapore and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates have barred ships from changing crew members who have recently traveled from India, making it difficult for seafarers to be relieved at the end of their contract periods.
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