According to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), two vessels are being held off port limits at the Port of Cape Town after a crew member aboard one of the vessels started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
This is the first suspected case of the virus at a South African seaport. It is believed the crew member came into contact with six passengers and another crew member aboard a flight before they all boarded cruise liners.
The crew member in question flew into the country from Istanbul, Turkey on March 9 according to IOL.
Thus far, only one of the members has started showing signs of illness but both of them were placed in isolation abroad a general cargo vessel, the MV Corona, which left the Port of Cape Town on March 11.
On Friday, March 13 the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) received information from the master of the vessel that the one crew member began exhibiting symptoms of the virus. A request was made to return to the Port of Cape Town for evacuation from the vessel.
Authorities granted permission shortly after and the vessel arrived on Monday, March 16.
Evacuation efforts were coordinated by the MRCC, the Harbour Master of the Port of Cape Town and Port Health. Airforce helicopters picked up crew members and transported them to the hospital for further care and testing.
An additional six passengers aboard the Italian MV AidAmira had been on the same flight as the MV Corona crew. These passengers are currently displaying no signs of the virus but were isolated and monitored nonetheless.
The MV AidAmira has been traveling between the Port of Cape Town and Namibia this season with 1 240 passengers aboard plus 486 crew members.
Docking was permitted yesterday [March 16], where the six passengers were evacuated and taken to the hospital for testing before heading to a quarantine area.
The remaining 1 720 passengers and crew will remain in quarantine on board the ship until the results of the six passengers in question are received.