First Lankan seafarer dies from Covid-19 | Sunday Observer
NUSS urges vaccination priority:

First Lankan seafarer dies from Covid-19

14 May, 2021

A Sri Lankan seafarer has died due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is the first reported death among seafarers and this has prompted an urgent request from a maritime trade union organisation to give priority to such sea workers on the vaccination program.

Able seaman Chamara Ukwatte died while sailing on a Cyprus-flagged vessel close to a port in Bahrain on Wednesday this week and his remains were disposed in keeping with international Covid-19 health guidelines, President of the National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka (NUSS) Palitha Atukorale said yesterday.

He was 35-years-old and a resident of Galle.

“We wish to make a humble request to the relevant authorities to place Sri Lankan seafarers on the priority list on the Covid-19 vaccination program since they belong to a crucial sector that also bring a sizeable amount of foreign exchange into the country.

These workers touch down in several global ports since it is their job and, therefore, the risk in contracting the virus is high.

It is urgently hoped that the relevant authorities will look into this issue at the very earliest and we have also made several earlier requests to the authorities”, Atukorale said.

At present, there are some 17,000 active Sri Lankan seafarers and together they rake in an annual foreign exchange earnings of between US$ 275 to 300 million, he added.

He said that the NUSS together with the International Transport workers’ Federation was providing support and whatever assistance possible to the family of the dead seafarer.