Fatigue During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Experiences of Chinese Seafarers
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Though the COVID-19 pandemic is drawing to a close, very little is known about the impact of China’s zero-COVID policy on Chinese seafarers. This paper examines Chinese seafarers’ experiences of fatigue during the pandemic. It adopted a mix-method research design involving two quantitative surveys conducted with seafarers before and during the pandemic and 35 in-depth interviews with both seafarers and managers. All the participants were from two Chinese shipping companies. The comparisons between the two surveys show that Chinese seafarers experienced significantly higher levels of fatigue during the pandemic. The interview data suggest a range of factors underpinning the higher levels of fatigue including fear of being infected, increased workload, wearing of four-piece personal protection equipment (PPE), the deprivation of shore leaves, and the prolonged service time. More importantly, the data indicate that the draconian zero-COVID policy in China and the related policy guidelines for Chinese shipping companies and seafarers reinforce these factors. This research extends previous research by providing an exclusive and comprehensive examination of seafarer fatigue during the pandemic and revealing that the policies adopted by seafarers’ home countries can have profound implications for seafarers’ experiences of fatigue. Suggestions are provided at the end of the paper.
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