Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has confirmed two vessels in the Port of Cape Town are being held off port limits after a crew member on-board one of the vessels began to exhibit symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19).
It was later established he had been on a flight with a fellow crew member and six passengers who went on to board a cruise vessel at the port.
This is the first suspected case of Covid-19 in a South African sea-port.
The two crew members had flown into the country from Istanbul, Turkey on March 9. Only one of the two is showing signs of being ill, however both have been placed into isolation on-board the general cargo vessel, MV Corona.
The vessel left the port last Wednesday.
TNPA said in a state that the ship’s master had contacted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and the Port Health unit of the National Department of Health two days later on March 13, confirming that one crew member was exhibiting symptoms.
The MV Corona requested that the vessel returned to the Port of Cape Town for evacuation.
Upon arrival yesterday (Monday), the vessel waited off port limits.
MRCC, Port Health and the Harbour Master of the Port of Cape Town have coordinated efforts to evacuate both crew members by arranging with the air force to move the suspected crew member to a nearby hospital.
TNPA added that six passengers on-board the Italian flagged MV AIDAmira passenger vessel had been on the same flight as the crew members of the MV Corona.
However, according to the master and the relevant doctor on-board the passenger liner, the six have shown no symptoms of the virus but are in isolation and being monitored continuously.
The AIDAmira has been operating between Cape Town and Namibia (Walvis Bay) this cruise season. The vessel sailed last Friday from Walvis Bay in Namibia with 1240 passengers and a total crew of 486 on board.
The ship was on her way back to Cape Town when TNPA was informed by Port Health Cape Town that six passengers had been on the same flight as the two MV Corona crew members.
The Master of the AIDAmira immediately quarantined the six passengers to prevent the spread of the infection to other passengers and crew on-board.
The ship arrived outside the Port of Cape Town on Monday.
TNPA said the six passengers had been evacuated and taken to hospital for testing and thereafter would be taken to a quarantined area.
The remaining passengers would be quarantined on board until the test results for the six are received and thereafter a decision will be made based on the results.
So far only one of the two crew members on-board the Corona has shown symptoms of being sick and no passengers or crew on-board the AIDAmira are exhibiting any symptoms.