As many as 14 seafarers coming from India have tested positive for the coronavirus in South Africa. This comes at a time when the country has been reeling under the second wave of the pandemic, adding a record number of new cases every day.
This has forced the global shipping industry to take note of the situation and ban crew changes in India. Amidst this, the coronavirus outbreak has been detected in 14 crew of a cargo ship from India which is likely to isolate the country in the coming days
At present, the company controlling the ship has started tracking all those who have interacted with the ship while the vessel remains in isolation. They have been strictly informed not to allow anyone to enter or leave the ship, revealed South Africa’s Transnet National Port Authority.
These 14 COVID positive crew had arrived with the ship in Durban on Sunday. One of the chief engineers of the ship has died of a heart attack. They have been ordered to be in isolation as track and trace initiative to identify all possible contacts begins.
Since Sunday, 200 port workers have been working to offload the 3000 tonnes of rice carried by ship, revealed a port official. The rice is being carried in 50 kg bags and several people have boarded the vessel since Sunday to offload them.
The ship primarily had a Filipino crew who had sailed from India. They had cleared the COVID tests there and everything was done according to the COVID protocol.
When the ship had arrived in Durban, 14 of the crew tested positive when COVID tests were carried out. Now, the whole vessel has been put in Quarantine at the Durban port.
Authorities have suspended all operations with the ship as fears of the spread of the new B.1.617 variant are likely. This double mutant COVID strain has been affecting thousands in India recently and countries are fearing that this will enter their territory.
However, the South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has assured that the double mutant strain hasn’t reached South Africa and that the ship is being handled properly.
There have been no direct flights to India so the question of the strain reaching South Africa doesn’t arise but Mkhize has expressed concern for people landing from other countries with a recent history of India travelling.