Ships in Cape Town cleared after suspected coronavirus case


The South Africa ports authority said tests proved negative for those aboard a cruise liner and cargo vessel held under quarantine off Cape Town port limits due to a suspected coronavirus outbreak.

Countries around the world barred cruise liners from entering ports, fearful the large ships could fuel the spread of coronavirus similar to the Diamond Princess quarantined in Yokohama on February 3.

“This means to date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our ports but we remain on high alert after this first scare,” said Captain Sabelo Mdlalose, acting chief harbour master at Transnet National Ports Authority.

South Africa held the cruise liner MV AidAmira and the MV Corona cargo vessel after a crew member aboard one showed signs of coronavirus.

The cargo vessel left Cape Town on March 11 but the ship’s master contacted port authorities requesting to return after the patient started exhibiting virus symptoms.

Six passengers on the Italian-flagged MV AidAmira were quarantined as a precautionary measure for further medical checks, although they did not exhibit any symptoms, Transnet said.

The cruise liner, with 1 240 passengers and 486 crew, was on its way back from Namibia’s Walvis Bay. Besides the six, all other passengers and crew remained quarantined on board.

Both vessels were granted clearance to continue from Cape Town’s port but it is expected cruise liner passengers will be allowed to disembark and fly to their respective countries, Transnet said.