Shipmanagers have been scrambling to hire non-Chinese seafarers and secure approvals from flag states to extend the time period crews can stay aboard vessels, amid mounting challenges as the coronavirus spreads worldwide.

Since the outbreak began at the end of 2019, China's transport ministry has asked shipping companies to bar seafarers from going ashore when their vessels call in the country as a containment measure.

Since then, nations including Singapore, Russia, Italy, South Korea and the US have either banned or restricted the entry of Chinese nationals in attempts to contain the spread of the virus.