South Africa

Fourteen crew positive for Covid-19 on cargo ship that sailed from India to SA

Fourteen crew positive for Covid-19 on cargo ship that sailed from India to SA

Transnet National Port Authority confirmed on Tuesday evening that 14 crew members of a cargo bulk carrier that sailed to Durban from India have tested positive for Covid-19.

TimesLIVE reported earlier in the day that the vessel which docked at the Durban harbour on Sunday is being quarantined after a crew member died during the 17-day journey.

This comes as the Indian subcontinent has emerged as the global pandemic epicentre and is reporting more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases a day. The new cases and associated fatalities are largely driven by the B.1.617 variant.

On Tuesday, port authorities were told to halt all operations and interaction on the vessel — which had been transporting rice. A senior port official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at the time that least 200 port employees had been working on the vessel since Sunday evening.

It is understood that at least 3,000 tonnes of rice had been manually offloaded from the vessel and transported to a warehouse at the port.

TNPA said in a statement that the chief engineer of the vessel died from a heart attack.

“The Filipino-crewed vessel was on a 17-day direct sail from India to Durban.

“As a requirement for the next port of call all crew members of the vessel were tested for Covid-19 and cleared. Upon arrival as a standard precautionary measure all crew members were tested and 14 tested positive.”

According to TNPA the vessel is now in quarantine at the port.

“As part of the Covid-19 protocols, the crew contact tracking and tracing is being undertaken. The vessel is under lockdown and the port health authority has assigned a team to go on board and check on the crew members.

“TNPA is responsible for ensuring that all vessels calling the port have been cleared by relevant state organs, namely, port health, migration, MRCC and customs before entering or leaving the port.”

The authority said it continued to remain vigilant to ensure all vessels calling at the port have been cleared.