MSC Cruises said it was not notified that a former passenger aboard one of its cruises in South Africa may have tested positive for Covid-19, reports Newcastle Advertiser.
A local woman who tested positive at a private laboratory developed a sore throat and flu-like symptoms during a three-night luxury cruise to Mozambique on board the MSC Orchestra, which departed from the Durban Harbour on 13 March.
The woman has been self-isolating at home since returning to Newcastle. Her husband, who accompanied her on the trip, has tested negative. Fourteen others, who were part of the travel group, were tested for the virus on Saturday evening and are self-isolating at home while they await their results.
In response to an official media enquiry, public relations manager for MSC Cruises South Africa, Lebo Mavuso said: “MSC Cruises has not been notified by any former passenger, port health authority or the government that a former passenger onboard one of our cruises in South Africa may have tested positive for Covid-19.
“If we received notification, then, naturally, we would act appropriately and follow the requirements stipulated by the national government and the Ministry of Health. MSC Cruises has complied with all applicable legislation and directives from the ports we serve in South Africa,” added Mavuso.
Spokesperson for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said the relevant authorities would get in touch with MSC with the necessary steps to be taken once the positive result was verified by the NICD.
“As soon as we are informed, we will follow all the requirements from the National Ministry and the Department of Health,” said managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk, who advised that anybody who suspects they may have the coronavirus should self-quarantine and get tested.
He added that MSC had put measures in place since early February in an attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
On March 16, a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa publicly declared a national state of disaster, the MSC Orchestra embarked on its final cruise of the season and cancelled all remaining cruises in South Africa, offering its customers a voucher for the value of their 2019/2020 cruise package, which they can redeem in the 2020/2021 cruise season.
“The national disaster was discussed on the night of the 15th and it finished the next morning, so for us to get the passengers on the 16th to be removed was almost impossible.
“We contacted all of the port authorities. The ship can’t leave without clear authorisation from all the relevant departments. No one stopped us,” concluded Volk.
The ship arrived from its five-day cruise at the port of Durban on March 20 and passengers were allowed to disembark 100 at a time, to prevent more than a 100 people from gathering, in compliance with the national regulation.
MSC reported that all 2,408 passengers and 929 crew were found to be in good health, after being individually screened and medically examined by authorities for Covid-19.