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 19 Mar 2020

CLEARED ... The Italian-flagged MV Aidamira, which had been quarantined off the coast of Cape Town since Sunday due to suspected coronavirus contamination, was cleared by South African authorities on Wednesday. Photo: Contributed


SIX passengers on the MV Aidamira cruise ship, which docked at Walvis Bay last Thursday, and has been quarantined off the coast from Cape Town since Sunday, were officially cleared of coronavirus.

The South African ports authority announced on Wednesday that tests done on the passengers on their arrival at Cape Town on Sunday were negative.

The vessel was held under quarantine when it arrived near Cape Town after it was suspected that some passengers had allegedly been in contact with a victim of the virus before boarding the vessel before coming to Namibia. Although they did not show symptoms, they were tested as a precautionary measure.

The Aidamira operates between the ports of Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in South Africa and the ports of Lüderitz and Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Since the vessel docked at Walvis Bay, there were fears that there were passengers being isolated on the vessel due to suspected coronavirus contamination.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services, however, issued a media statement at the time confirming that all of the passengers were screened at the port of Lüderitz before they disembarked. There was, therefore, no pressing reason to test them again when they docked at Walvis Bay a day later.

Two days later, however, after the vessel returned to Cape Town from Walvis Bay, the vessel was quarantined and the six passengers tested.

When Namport was approached regarding this development, it told the media that it was only a precautionary measure. On Wednesday, the test results were revealed to be negative.

In the meantime, between the time the vessel was in Namibia and when it was quarantined, two people tested positive for the coronavirus in Namibia – adding Namibia to the mix of affected countries around the globe. These have been the only two cases reported thus far, and they are apparently recovering well.

The Aidamira was expected to return to Namibia for three days from 25 to 27 March and again from 9 to 10 April, but the German cruise line Aida suspended all its passenger ship cruises in response to massive global restrictions imposed due to the virus outbreak – joining the list of cruise liners worldwide which have acted swiftly to curb the spread of the virus.

Some cruise companies have suffered major setbacks after their liners became riddled with coronavirus victims, which resulted in several deaths.

The cruise line industry is suffering a major economic blow because of the pandemic.

SOURCE: THe Namibian - by Adam Hartman