South Africa’s Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has confirmed that test results from the individuals suspected to be the first cases of COVID-19 in a South African seaport have all come back negative.
Earlier this week, a crew member of a bulk carrier Corona fell ill with typical coronavirus symptoms following the vessel’s departure from the Port of Cape Town on March 11.
It was later established that he had been on a flight from Istanbul with a fellow crew member and six passengers who embarked the AIDAmira cruise vessel at the port. While only the first crew member was ill, protocols dictated that he and the remaining seven be quarantined.
Both ships were held off port limits outside the Port of Cape Town. The cruise vessel was later allowed to dock but its roughly 1,700 passengers and crew remained onboard pending test results from one suspected COVID-19 case and seven others who had possible contact with him. Yesterday, Germany’s AIDA Cruises, operator of AIDAmira, confirmed that there are no coronavirus cases on board the 48,200 GT passenger ship.
“All parties are relieved that these results have returned negative and that plans can be set in motion for the vessels to continue their journeys,” Captain Sabelo Mdlalose, Acting Chief Harbour Master at TNPA, said.
“This means there have to date been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our ports but we will remain on high alert after this first scare and will keep working with the Port Health unit of the Department of Health to manage vessels who report potential cases.”
Port Health has now granted clearance for both vessels to continue their journeys from the Port of Cape Town.
It is expected that the AIDAmira passengers will be allowed to disembark in the Port of Cape Town and fly onward to their respective countries.