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Coronavirus in SA: Cruise season continues from Durban port

Published Mar 16, 2020


 As a state of national disaster, takes effect with visas of Europeans from high-risk areas being cancelled, the closure of schools, the limiting of mass gatherings and two of the eight ports in South Africa shutting down operations, South Africa's booming cruise season will continue to go ahead.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) which operates cruises around the world and from South Africa said that the cruise from the Durban Port to Pomene Island which commences on Monday will continue as planned.

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It comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday night that will see two of South Africa's eight seaports will be closed for passenger and crew changes.

The MSC, which is currently operating its cruise liner, the MSC Orchestra out of Durban and Cape-Town said they had been in contact with the Port Authority seeking clarification on Ramaphosa's drastic measures and were informed that the seaport closures do not affect Durban or Cape-Town.

"We have requested to be notified as soon as clarification has been made and we will take guidance from the relevant authorities in South Africa," the company said in a statement.

It comes just days after MSC Cruises temporarily stopped all its U.S.-based new cruises embarkations for 45 days until 30 April.

"As the COVID-19 situation is now a global pandemic, governments across the globe are continuously reviewing ashore public health and safety measures to protect local populations and limit the further spread of the virus. MSC Cruises’ decision aims to mirror and further support the effectiveness of such efforts".

For its South African operations, the company said that in line with the presidents statement around international travelling the following has been in place prior to embarkation since the middle of February, this is applicable to both guests and crew:

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- Guests and crew from all nationalities are required to fill out a pre-embarkation questionnaire. 

- Any guest that has travelled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Europe, South Korea, United States, UK, Canada and Iran, or visited or transited via these airports, will be denied access to the ship. 

- The same rules will apply to the guests travel companions (including a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or any companion who will share a cabin).

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In addition, MSC said mandatory non-touch thermal scans will be conducted for all guests and crew prior to embarkation for every cruise operated by MSC Cruises globally. 

Passengers with signs or symptoms of the illness such as fever (≥38 C°) or feverishness, chills, cough or difficulty with breathing will be denied embarkation. 

Any guest who, within 14 days before embarkation, has had close contact with or helped care for anyone suspected or diagnosed as having coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to coronavirus, will be denied boarding.

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Elevated deep-sanitation will be carried out on every ship in the line’s entire global fleet.

The company said that if guests develop fever symptoms once on board, they will be isolated in their cabin and the same measure applies for their travel companions and close contacts on-board, including guests staying in the same cabin and family members, as well as any crew member who may have had to contact with these guests.

Any guest on board is able to have their temperature checked at the medical centre should they have any concerns in this regard.

"Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, MSC Cruises has been closely monitoring the public health and safety situation in each of the regions in which its ships sail. We have been continuously consulting with both international and local health authorities in order to implement the necessary recommendations and measures. The safety of our passengers is of paramount importance. MSC Cruises undertakes to keep you informed of any further developments from relevant authorities and the port of Durban and if any changes are made to your cruise, this will be communicated with you".

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