Coronavirus warning sign. Infectious virus in China. Coronavirus outbreak. Quarantine zone.
© Jiri Hojda

Thoroughly well-argued blog post by the International Transport Forum’s shipping and ports policy expert, Olaf Merk, on the pivotal role that shipping has played in transforming “localised virus outbreaks into worldwide pandemics”. Issues include the transport of wildlife and illegally logged wood and ballast water – by which seawater from one part of the world is taken on by ships as ballast during a voyage and then dumped in another part, which has had awful consequences. “The 1991 cholera epidemic in Peru is believed to have been introduced into three ports through ballast water from Bangladesh. The disease subsequently spread throughout Latin America, killing more than 10,000 people by 1994.” Mr Merk concludes by calling for all participants in maritime supply chains – but especially shipping lines and ports – to ensure greater scrutiny of cargo.

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