It is a strange thing to find yourself at sea with 13 women, in one of the most remote corners of the ocean, when in the world outside our bubble, a pandemic is developing.
When we first boarded the boat from Easter Island in early March, the world was a different place. Coronavirus (COVID-19) had just reached Europe – and had not yet been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Before joining an eXXpedition voyage, we’re each required to have a check up with our local medical professional, to ensure that we’re up to the physical demands of sailing. As an additional precaution for Leg 8, eXXpedition organised for the crew to be checked over by a doctor on Easter Island before boarding to ensure that we were all healthy and well. Plus a health and travel statement each crew member signed confirming we have not been in a list of high risk or restricted countries as identified by the FCO, do not have symptoms and have not been in contact with COVID-19. It felt better to know we were all in the same boat, literally, in doing all we could to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Sailing a long off-shore passage in the South Pacific was always going to be very isolated! It truly is one of the most remote places on our planet. It was part of the appeal for many on board this particular leg. But we now find ourselves unintentionally self-quarantined at sea, updated from the shore support team on major developments as the impacts of COVID-19 began to wreak havoc on the world outside. Out at sea it seems difficult to imagine how in such a short time, so much has changed. For us, the updates have meant much less disruption to life on board, but our crew has sought to make our boat the safest place possible.
Onboard, we are health checked every few days, which includes a temperature reading by Anna, our Skipper and Medical Officer. So far, no one is presenting as unwell and we are all happy and healthy on board – and whilst we head at full speed towards our next destination, are still managing to collect a few science samples along the way.
We hope everyone at home is staying safe! Here are some actions that can help keep you, your families and friends safe and with them your wider community:
1. Wash your hands frequently
2. Maintain social distancing
3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
4. Practise respiratory hygiene
5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care and call in advance
6. Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
7. Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading