New protocols are being carried out as three vessels have been stopped at the Port of Cape Town before their passengers are allowed to disembark.
These stringent new checks are in line with recently instated COVID-19 port restrictions.
The three ships are the Norwegian Spirit, Silver Cloud and the Aidamira.
Norwegian Spirit had already set course for Cape Town when the new restrictions were put in place. The ship has 1 759 passengers onboard.
Unable to turn back, the ship was left to drift a few miles off shore but needs to dock for fuel and other provisions before it will be able to leave the port.
In alignment with new regulations some of the passengers were cleared and sent home yesterday, March 22, while others will be sent home today [March 23].
The Aidamira originally docked with 1 240 passengers but has slowly began disembarking some of them with the remainder leaving in the next two days.
Last week six passengers aboard this ship were evacuated out of fears that they had the virus, but tested negative at a later stage.
“It is important to note that none of the passenger ships that recently docked in Cape Town showed any signs of the coronavirus. The Aidamira was a precautionary measure because six passengers travelled on the same flight as South Africa’s Patient Zero, however this led to restrictions being placed on all passenger and cargo vessels calling at South African ports,” South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (Samsa) deputy chief operations officer, Vernon Keller told IOL.
Crew are not allowed ashore while docking and only passengers or staff who show symptoms are being tested.
Other measures put in place to curb the spread include improved hygiene control aboard ships, sanitation facilities readily available and better facilities and systems for tracking, reporting and monitoring port visits.
Roughly 131 passengers aboard the Silver Cloud already began disembarking on Sunday, March 22 with 23 more leaving today. Two more passengers from this vessel will return home on Tuesday.