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Greek owners urge priority vaccination for ‘heroes of the sea’

Theodore Veniamis says crews should receive vaccines early to solve crew change dilemma and to ensure international trade goes uninterrupted

Seafarers have been shunned by authorities in many ports as coronavirus fears have overridden the need for crew changes

SEAFARERS should be near the front of the queue for inoculating against the coronavirus when vaccines become available, the Union of Greek Shipowners has said.

“We are deeply indebted to all the key workers, the heroes of this uneven battle, the doctors, the nurses, the scientists and others, but also to our seafarers who work tirelessly day and night during the pandemic,” said union president Theodore Veniamis.

Seafarers have been shunned by authorities in many ports around the world as coronavirus fears have overridden the need for crew changes.

Reiterating widespread industry concern for the welfare of crews, Mr Veniamis said there was, even belatedly, “a dire need for governments around the world to view them as essential workers”.

It was “of utmost importance that competent authorities give priority to seafarers in Covid-19 vaccination, together with other key workers, such as medical personnel”, he said.

“This will ensure a Covid-19-free environment for seafarers, who work under especially restrictive conditions, as well as the facilitation of crew changes and repatriations, which at the moment are seriously disrupted.”

It would also ensure “uninterrupted international trade”, he said.

“During this extraordinary global health crisis, seafarers remain faithful to their duty to supply the citizens of the world with essential goods, energy, food, medicines and medical equipment. They do so with professionalism, facing tremendous difficulties and personal sacrifices.”

The Greek shipowners’ leader said that recent announcements of the results of vaccine trials were “good news”.

“We are looking more hopefully into the future after the news that vaccines for Covid-19 are now near,” he said.

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